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
- 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.
- 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.)
- Add ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro and epazote and puree again until smooth, stirring seeds into mixture if necessary.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot.
- Pour blender contents into the pot while stirring, and stir in remaining one cup of broth.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. Salt to taste.
- Ladle a generous spoonful of mole into soup bowls, add a piece of cooked chicken, and spoon more mole over chicken.
- Serve with rice or warm corn tortillas.