Chicken Mole Rojo and Green Chili Bomba with Fried Plantains

Local, pastured chicken is seasoned with cracked cumin, sea salt and black pepper, then quickly roasted before being lacquered with a densely-flavored, traditional red mole.  Topped with toasted sesame seeds and minced onions & cilantro, and served with stock-simmered bomba rice with onions, green chiles and fried plantains..

Chicken Mole Rojo and Green Chili Bomba with Fried Plantains

Mole Rojo Clasico (recipe by Rick Bayless)

5 ounces (2-3 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/2 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1/2 cup rich-tasting pork lard or vegetable oil, plus a little more if necessary
3 ounces (about 6 medium) dried mulato chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
2 ounces (about 4 medium) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
2 ounces (about 5 medium) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded & torn into large pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) unskinned raw almonds
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon anise, preferably freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
1 slice firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
1 ounce (about 1/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
Salt
unrefined sugar to taste

On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side.  Scrape into a large bowl.  In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirringly nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes.  Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos.  Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the chicken.

Brown other mole ingredients.  Turn on an exhaust fan or open a kitchen door or window.  In a very large soup pot (I typically use a 12-quart stainless steel stock pot or a medium-large Mexican earthenware cazuela), heat the lard or oil over medium.  When quite hot, fry the chiles, three or four pieces at a time, flipping them nearly constantly with tongs until their interior side has changed to a lighter color, about 20 or 30 seconds total frying time.  Don’t toast them so darkly that they begin to smoke—that would make the mole bitter.  As they’re done, remove them to a large bowl, being careful to drain as much fat as possible back into the pot.  Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to insure even soaking.

Remove any stray chile seeds left in the fat.  With the pot still over medium heat, fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.

Add the raisins to the hot pot.  Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly.  Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.

To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate.  Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.

Blend, strain, cook.  Into a large measuring cup, tip off the chiles’ soaking liquid. Taste the liquid:  if it’s not bitter, discard all abut 6 cups of the liquid. (if you’re short, add water to make up the shortfall).  If bitter, pour it out and measure 6 cups water.  Scoop half of the chiles into a blender jar, pour in half of the soaking liquid (or water) and blend to a smooth puree.  Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don’t pass through the strainer.  Repeat with the remaining chiles.

Return the soup pot or cazuela to medium heat.  When quite hot, pour in the chile puree—it should sizzle sharply and, if the pan is sufficiently hot, the mixture should never stop boiling.  Stir every couple of minutes until the chile puree has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about a half hour. (I find it useful to cover the pot with an inexpensive spatter screen to catch any spattering chile.)

In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it in to the large bowl that contained the chiles. When the chile paste has reduced, add the tomatillo mixture to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes. (Again, a spatter screen saves a lot of cleanup.)

Simmer.  Add the broth to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about 2 hours for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water.  Taste and season with salt (usually about 4 teaspoons) and the sugar and keep warm.

For the Green Chili Bomba (adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless)

1 cup bomba rice (a special type of Spanish paella rice)
3 cups rich chicken stock
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat
1/4 thinly-sliced green chiles
sea salt

ripe plantains
butter or peanut oil

Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold, filtered water until the water runs clear.  Allow to drain 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock until steaming.

Heat the chicken fat in heavy, high-walled skillet until shimmering.  Add the rice and stir constantly until it floats freely in the hot fat.  Add onions and chiles and cook 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add chicken stock and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and cook without stirring 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.

To prepare

Season chicken joints with salt, pepper and cracked cumin and roast in a heavy skillet in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, dunk chicken in mole and return to pan to the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.  Remove pan from oven, baste chicken with more mole and allow to stand 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry slices of ripe plantain in hot peanut oil or butter until deep golden brown on both sides.  Set aside to drain.

Arrange chicken on one side of plate and spoon a little mole over the top.  Garnish with toasted white sesame seeds, minced onion and cilantro.  Arrange rice next to the chicken and garnish with fried plantains.  Serve hot.

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