Puebla and Oaxaca both have their own distinctive versions of green mole, but none is as laden with fresh vegetables as Xalapa’s mole verde. Although I have prepared several meatless pipians and red moles for my vegetarian children, I always make a batch with poultry or meat for the rest of us. Although most people prefer mole with chicken or pork, I can honestly say that this is the perfect mole for vegetarians.
The use of a really good, homemade vegetable stock is a perfect base for the fresh flavor of the vegetables and herbs. Do not use powdered vegetable boullion or cubes, since the stock really makes a difference, especially in vegetarian recipes. The following recipe has instructions for making it with chicken or as a vegetarian dish. Feel free to substitute whatever fresh green vegetables are available.
- 3 ½-4 pounds chicken thighs or leg-thigh combinations
- 2 onions, 1 cut in half and 1 chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, 2 whole and 1 chopped
- 8 romaine lettuce leaves
- 2 leaves each: hoja santa leaves, chayote leaves, dried avocado leaves
- 4 sprigs cilantro 4 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs epazote
- 1 poblano chile, roasted, seeded and peeled
- 1 chayote, cut into large cubes
- 4 cobs of corn, husks removed, each cut into 4 pieces
- 2 zucchini, cut into large cube1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup fresh fava beans, shelled, peeled and cooked
- ½ cup fresh or frozen peas, cooked
- masa harina for thickening
Cook the chicken in salted water to cover with one of the onions and two of the garlic cloves. Remove from heat and set aside. If making a vegetarian mole, omit this step and follow the next directions using vegetable stock.
Place all of the leaves and herbs in a blender with the poblano chile, the chopped onion and the chopped garlic. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, and puree until smooth. This may have to be done in two batches.
Cook the chayote, corn and zucchini, removing from the cooking water when just barely tender, and drain. The corn will probably take longer, depending upon its freshness. Adding a pinch of baking soda at the end of cooking green vegetables brings out the brightness of their color.
In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil, add the green puree, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, if using, the cooked vegetables and the cooked fava beans and peas. Thicken to desired consistency with masa harina dissolved in water and cook another few minutes until the masa harina loses its “raw” taste.
Divide the chicken, if using, and vegetables among eight bowls, ladle the sauce over all and serve hot. Serves 8.