CHICKEN MOLE SANDWICH

It just occurred to me that this might be the Mexican version of the day after Thanksgiving sandwich.  Mole is a classic Mexican sauce, invented by the nuns of Pueblo (though some other cities lay claim to it as well) to honor a bishop visiting their parish.  It’s made with odds and ends, which only adds to the mysteriousness of this dark, murky sauce.  A little sweet, a whisper of spice, and filled with the smokiness of dried chiles, this truly is one of my favorite sauces. This version of a chicken salad sandwich is inspired by one I tried in Tulum and just had to make for myself again.  It’s so simple, but so so good.

CHICKEN MOLE SANDWICH

CHICKEN MOLE SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS

For 2 to 3 sandwiches

2 poached chicken breasts, chopped or shredded, cold

1 cup mole sauce, plus 3 tablespoons, cooled

6 slices whole grain bread, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS

Place the shredded chicken in a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper.  Add a cup of the mole sauce and stir until the chicken is coated.  Spread a tablespoon of mole over the two interior sides of the toast, add the chicken, and press into a sandwich.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (MOLE DE POBLANO (QUICKIE VERSION))

For 2 cups mole sauce

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

2 pasilla chilies, tops removed

a pasilla is a dried poblano

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground mexican canela

pinch ground cloves

2 tablespoons masa

1/2 ounce mexican or unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a small dry sauté pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown, about five minutes. Set aside.  Place the pasillas in the sauté pan over medium heat and lightly toast, about 2 minutes a side. Remove the pasillas any place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let the chiles sit for 20 minutes until just soft. Remove the chiles, lightly drying on a paper towel, and reserve the chile water.

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the ancho chili powder, pasillas, and garlic cloves to the oil, cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Stir continually so nothing burns. Add the sesame seeds, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the masa, chocolate and chicken broth. Cook for 10 minutes, then pour everything into a blender and puree under very very smooth. Add chile water to thin it out if necessary. Simmer for another 30 minutes, until the mole is slightly thickened.  Season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and the sugar.

INGREDIENTS (SIMPLE POACHED CHICKEN)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 onion, sliced

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs parsley

1 sprig thyme

10 black peppercorns

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

1 tablespoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Place the chicken breasts at the bottom of a wide, deep pan. Add enough water to cover the breasts by an inch. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the water to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. You should see a few gentle bubbles rise up from time to time, but definitely not a full rolling boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly and let the chicken breasts stand in the hot water for another 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how big the chicken breasts are.  Remove the breasts and chop up for immediate use or hold in the fridge until ready to use.

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