Mole Verde con Pollo for Cinco de Mayo

Mole Verde con Pollo marks a milestone for me, as I have never had a recipe for chicken on this blog before, and I have not eaten chicken in over ten years. Until now. I could not bring myself to eat anything that had been raised in cramped cages, denied sunshine and fed who knows what.  A local reader, knowing of my chicken hang-up, told me that the same store where I buy range-fed beef also carries chickens from a local ranch. Several years ago, when I asked about chicken at this store, they could not tell me it was supplied locally. It seems things have changed, so chicken is back on our menu. Russ is glad.

With fortuitous timing, another reader, Cecil, sent me her grandmother’s recipe for Mole Verde con Pollo. Compared to most, this mole (MOH-lay, with an accent on the first syllable), is easy to make, having fewer ingredients, and it has a lighter taste. The dark moles can be heavy. This is not to say they aren’t wonderful, but they are fairly intense. Mole verde is less spicy but with its own notes of pumpkin seeds, tomatillos and epazote. Russ says he’ll eat it as often as I make it.

There are many different types of moles, spanning a rainbow of colors: yellow, red, black, green, plus pipián and almendrado. They all contain chiles, but they don’t all use chocolate. Mole Poblano, a dark mole from Puebla, does include chocolate. Mole Verde does not. I think you will like how easy it is to prepare and its fresh, light flavor. It’s what we are having for Cinco de Mayo, an almost non-event in Mexico, but celebrated big time by the grocery stores in the U.S.

Pumpkin seeds — pepitas — are a common snack in Mexico. You can buy them raw or already toasted and salted. What we think of as pumpkins in the U.S. and Canada are seldom seen in Mexico. (And that means no jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween in Mexico, either.)  Pepitas are really squash seeds. For this recipe, start with raw seeds, pepitas or pumpkin seeds, and toast them lightly until just starting to brown.

Unless you are all fired up about using your molcajete, pulverize the cooled, toasted pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder. Wipe out any coffee residue first, or better yet, keep a coffee grinder dedicated to spice and seed grinding.

Mole Verde con Pollo

  • 1 large chicken, cut into pieces and simmered in 1 quart (1 liter) water until tender
  • 3/4 cup (100 grams/3.5 oz.) ground toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 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 link below)
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 3 sprigs epazote or parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups (700 ml.) chicken stock, strained, from cooking the chicken
  • 1 tablespoon (20 ml.) vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  1. In a medium sized pot, simmer tomatillos, onion, garlic, serranos and 2 cups of chicken broth for 5 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft.
  2. Pour tomatillo mixture into a blender jug and add poblanos and lettuce. Puree until smooth.  (Hold lid on firmly with a dish towel to prevent a hot explosion of liquid.)
  3. Add ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro and epazote and puree again until smooth, stirring seeds into mixture if necessary.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot.
  5. Pour blender contents into the pot while stirring, and stir in remaining one cup of broth.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. Salt to taste.
  7. Ladle a generous spoonful of mole into soup bowls, add a piece of cooked chicken, and spoon more mole over chicken.
  8. Serve with rice or warm corn tortillas.

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  1. #1 by Native American Jewelry Tips on May 4, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    Yum and great photos. Your pepitas look wonderful – do you know what type of squash they are usually from?

    • #2 by Cooking in Mexico on May 4, 2011 - 9:11 pm

      No, I don’t know what type of squash, but I would guess that pepitas are from the very large, orangy-brown squash, used to make candied calabaza. When I ask the name of a particular squash in the stores, I am always told, “Calabaza”. This is the name for all the different squash in Mexico, and try as I might, I can’t learn the exact names. Your question has spurred me to keep on trying. Someone must know!

  2. #3 by Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet on May 4, 2011 - 10:18 pm

    Moles are one of the recipes I would love to dive into but it takes such dedication! They are so delicious. I am am a huge mole fan and mole poblano is the one I have had the most. I am not complaining. When you get a really good version, it is simply amazing the depth of flavor. This mole verde has all ingredients I love – bookmarked!

    • #4 by Cooking in Mexico on May 4, 2011 - 10:31 pm

      If by “dedication”, you mean time consuming, this recipe is different. It really is quick to make, when you consider how much time and ingredients can go into some moles. This is the easiest mole recipe I have ever seen. You will like it, both in flavor and ease to make.

  3. #5 by angela on May 5, 2011 - 12:18 am

    Hi, I live in France and love to cook Mexican food for my French friends. However I have never seen a tomatillo here and know that it has a very particular taste. Can I substitute anything else for it, which would be more accessible here?

    • #6 by Cooking in Mexico on May 5, 2011 - 7:42 am

      Angela,
      Here are some suggested substitutes I found on the internet: green tomatoes; chopped green chiles with a bit of lemon juice; or canned tomatillos.
      Tomatillos are in the ground cherry family, they are not really tomatoes. They have a tart, acid taste, so it is possible green tomatoes would come close, but it would not be the exact same taste. I have read that there are good Mexican restaurants now in Paris. I don’t know if you ever get to Paris, but it is possible canned tomatillos are available as an import item to supply these restaurants. Perhaps you could visit one of these new Mexican restaurants and ask who there supplier is.
      One of my favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz, wrote about Mexican restaurants in Paris.
      Another item from the internet: Mexi&Co is another restaurant in Paris that also has a small store where they sell canned Mexican food. You might have to make a trip to the City of Lights.

  4. #7 by Darlene on May 5, 2011 - 5:52 am

    Kathleen,
    Your Mole Verde con Pollo looks so tempting, this recipe looks like another keeper.
    A special thanks to Cecil for sending you her grandmother’s recipe and a special thanks to you for showing and sharing it on your blog. I can’t wait to try this recipe.Chicken is a staple food around this household.

    • #8 by Cooking in Mexico on May 5, 2011 - 7:31 am

      I’m so glad Cecil sent the recipe, too — I love my readers!

  5. #9 by Dmarie on May 5, 2011 - 8:15 am

    ooh, your mole looks muy yummy! Just the other day, I added chicken back into our repertoire, after finding a source for humanely raised birds. I’m with you on the horrors over chickens in tiny, no room to move cages!

    • #10 by Cooking in Mexico on May 5, 2011 - 9:34 am

      As consumers demand chicken that is raised in better conditions, it will become more available in supermarkets. Here’s how to shop for chicken that is organic and humanely raised.
      For those who live in Mexico, the best way to find such chicken is to shop at small, local meat markets, and ask the origins of their poultry. Of course, this requires a knowledge of basic Spanish, and is one more reason why it helps to habla español.

  6. #11 by Vicki in GA on May 5, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    Scrumptious recipe. Love the mole and would use it in many dishes.
    On my list to make this weekend.

    Decided to take a vacation in 2012 to Mexico – hope to meet you then.

    Like the links to websites you’ve listed.

    Read your emails, Kat.

    XXOO

    • #12 by Cooking in Mexico on May 5, 2011 - 2:43 pm

      Hi Vicki,
      Yes, you must make this, it is so good. Let me know what you think of it. Great that you are coming to Mexico next year. We’ll get together then. More soon via email. Hugs, K

  7. #13 by Judy Jewell on May 5, 2011 - 6:35 pm

    I cant wait to try this recipe—Tho it would be a lot easier to get a couple of these ingredients in La Cruz!!! Thanks for doing this site–It keeps La Cruz with me even now!!!

    • #14 by Cooking in Mexico on May 5, 2011 - 8:23 pm

      Judy, except for the epazote, you should be able to find everything. Substitute parsley, and you’re good to go! Enjoy your summer.

  8. #15 by muybuenocookbook on May 6, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    I am soooo making your Mole Verde! Looks delish!!!

    • #16 by Cooking in Mexico on May 6, 2011 - 4:38 pm

      We just finished the last of the left-overs for lunch, and it was even better than the day I made it.

  9. #17 by sweetlife on May 6, 2011 - 6:39 pm

    I love mole verde, light and fresh perfect for summer. how sweet for a reader to send you a recipe. I love pepitas and dulce de calabaza (swoon) i love the color! lovely pic on the spoon!

    sweetlife

    • #18 by Cooking in Mexico on May 6, 2011 - 7:03 pm

      This was my first time to try mole verde, and I’m a fan now, too. It will be served regularly in our house.

  10. #19 by rsmacaalay on May 8, 2011 - 12:22 am

    That plate looks so tempting!

  11. #20 by Lyndsey on May 10, 2011 - 3:06 pm

    Kathleen, I am definitely making this mole. We love verde sauce and I have some tomatillos in my fridge just waiting to be used. I saw some when I was in Michigan the end of april to see my niece get married, and they were so tiny, I was happy to be back in Florida where we always have such a nice supply of fresh tomatillos. It is also nice that “free-range” chicken and eggs are becoming more and more easily available.

    I will let you know how fast my family gobbles this up! :D

    • #21 by Cooking in Mexico on May 10, 2011 - 3:48 pm

      Tiny tomatillos are in the stores here, too. They are as small as marbles. Then there are medium and larger ones. Some have a streak of purple on them — really a beautiful vegetable. Or are they a fruit?
      Yes, let me know how you liked it.

  12. #22 by Stephanie on May 10, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    My husband and I had the pleasure of eating this wonderful chicken dish in Kathleen’s kitchen. The chicken was moist and tender with that fresh taste I love about Mexican chickens. The sauce was delicious; tangy, piquante, and a great consistancy. It went so well with the poultry. Now that the recipe has been posted I intend to make it myself.
    Kathleen and her husband are wonderful, gracious hosts. Sitting in the dining room of their authentic Mexican home is always a treat. Thanks for a great comida, Kathleen!
    Stephanie

    • #23 by Cooking in Mexico on May 11, 2011 - 6:29 am

      You are more than welcome, Stephanie! It is always a pleasure to share a meal with good friends.

  13. #24 by ricarda on May 13, 2011 - 11:37 am

    Kathleen, i have been keeping up with Cooking In Mexico close to a year now, when I was in Puerto Vallarta March and April i was floored to know you were in Bucerias, yet taking care of my eldery mom kept us from visiting the Taco stand you mentioned, but did you notice it came out in Newspapers? Your mole verde, is the first dish that i try to make at home from your archive of recipies. Now in Texas, i couldn’t wait to make it because it reminded me of a friend in Ixtapa that makes really good mole verde at her house, anyhow being a vegetarian i used Potatoe cakes stuffed with carrots and panela cheese, omitting the peppers because of moms health. Well i must share that i have never seen my mom go back for seconds as she did your your mole verde recipie thanks! love your blogg!

    • #25 by Cooking in Mexico on May 13, 2011 - 4:09 pm

      Hi Ricarda,
      Good to hear from you. I am actually in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a little town next to Bucerias. If you saw an article in the online English newspaper, Banderas New, about the taco stand, that was written by me, also. So glad your mom liked the mole verde so much. Thanks for telling me — to hear comments like this is the best satisfaction I can get from writing a blog.

  14. #26 by foodieinberlin on May 14, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    How odd, it seems I have been unsubscribed from your blog. It just occurred to me that I hadn’t had any email notifications and now I look and there are a ton of posts I have missed. Anyone else have that problem?

    • #27 by Cooking in Mexico on May 14, 2011 - 2:08 pm

      I hope this is not a wide spread problem, and I’m so glad you found Cooking in Mexico again. Welcome back!

  15. #28 by Dmarie on June 11, 2011 - 8:05 pm

    I’m missing your posts, C.I.M. Hope everything is copacetic?

    • #29 by Cooking in Mexico on June 13, 2011 - 8:56 am

      Right now, my life is taking a different turn, but as the Terminator said, “I’ll be back!”

      • #30 by Dmarie on June 14, 2011 - 7:28 am

        glad to hear it! And best wishes for your “different turn.” :)

  16. #31 by blackdogblog on August 5, 2011 - 9:49 am

    I’ve been missing you, too. Hope you are having fun, whatever you’re up to!

  17. #32 by Emma on August 31, 2011 - 4:00 pm

    YUM ! I didn’t know there was any other variations to Mole, your dish looks amazing and really easy to follow. thank you…

    • #33 by Cooking in Mexico on August 31, 2011 - 4:32 pm

      There are many different moles. This one is the easiest I have ever made.

  18. #34 by Angela on December 19, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    Your mole sounds great. I think this website stole your picture http://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/mole-verde.html

    • #35 by Cooking in Mexico on December 19, 2013 - 2:38 pm

      You are absolutely right. They used my photo for their recipe. I left a comment asking that credit be given or the photo removed. This is not the first time this has happened (or second, or third…). It makes me wonder how common this practice is. Thank you for alerting me.

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