A mole is a stew which incorprates ground chiles, seeds, and sometimes nuts. The basis of a mole verde is the tomate verde, called a “tomatillo” north of the border. In Mexico, it is the opinion of many cooks that the smaller the tomate verde, the tastier. Sometimes called tomate de cascara, they must be removed from their sticky husk before cooking. Their slightly tart taste is the perfect foil for the toasted pumpkin seeds and the piquant chiles in this recipe. This is one of the most popular dishes in Puebla’s many marketplace restaurants.
- For the chicken:
- 1 whole chicken, cut into serving size pieces
- 1 small onion
- 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 sprig cilantroFor the mole:
- 3/4 cup ground toasted pumkin seeds (called pepitas, sold ground, or grind them yourself)
- 8 medium-size tomatillos, cut into quarters
- 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 4 serrano chiles, seeded or not, according to taste (seeds are the hottest part of chiles)
- 4 poblano chiles, skinned, seeded and chopped (See Note)
- 4 romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
- 3 sprigs cilantro
- 3 sprigs epazote (some people use parsley instead)
- 4 cups chicken stock, strained, from cooking the chicken
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Place the chicken, onion, carrot, garlic, and cilantro, along with salt to taste, in a stockpot with water to cover. Cook until tender, about 40 minutes, removing the white meat after 25-30 minutes so that it does not overcook and become rubbery. Remove from heat and set aside while you make the mole.
Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic and serranos in a saucepan with two cups of the strained chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes, until the tomatillos become soft. Transfer this to a blender container, add the chopped poblanos and lettuce and puree until smooth. Add the ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro and epazote or parsley and puree again. Transfer this into a saucepan in which you have heated the vegetable oil, and stir continuously as you gradually add the remaining two cups of strained chicken stock.
Simmer over low heat about thirty minutes, stirring frequently to make sure that the sauce doesn’t burn or stick. Taste for salt. Serve in soup or stew bowls: place a piece of chicken in each bowl, ladle the mole over it, and accompany with plenty of warm tortillas.
NOTE: To remove the skins from poblano chiles, roast them over a gas flame or in a broiler, turning until they are charred all over. Then place them in a plastic bag for 10-15 minutes. This loosens the skin and makes them easy to slide off under a stream of running water.