International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Quick Mole Poblano: All the Flavor, A Fraction of the Time

Plate of mole poblano

I love mole poblano. The subtle heat of the ancho, pasilla and mulato peppers. The sauce, its flavor deepened with chocolate and thickened just enough to coat slices of turkey or chicken with a cocoa-velvet sheen.

But all that wonderfulness can take a long, long time to make. I came up with this speedy version that—while not quite as ethereal as the hours-long stuff—can still make your heart sing and your tummy beg for más!

The core elements of the fabulosa sauce from Puebla are dried chiles, spices, chocolate and ground seeds or nuts. My fast version substitutes chili powder for the dried chiles, saving time roasting and grinding chilies. And tahini or peanut butter make quick replacements for grinding your own almonds, sesame or pumpkin seeds.

Many mole recipes have a huge list of ingredients. I have kept my list to about fifteen. But try experimenting with other spices and flavorings that are often used in mole poblano: anise, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, orange zest, avocado leaves.

Quick Mole Poblano Recipe

4 to 6 servings

  • Oil or lard -- 3 tablespoons
  • Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless -- 2 pounds
  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Garlic, minced -- 3-4 cloves
  • Chili powder -- 1 tablespoon
  • Oregano -- 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped tomatoes -- 1 cup
  • Chicken broth -- 2 cups
  • Raisins -- 1/4 cup
  • Unsweetened chocolate, chopped -- 2 ounces
  • Tahini or peanut butter -- 1/4 cup
  • Breadcrumbs -- 1/4 cup
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  1. Heat the oil or lard in a large skillet over medium-high flame. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown them on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon to the skillet and sauté until the onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to cook down their liquid somewhat. Add the chicken broth, raisins and chocolate, stirring to melt the chocolate. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat set aside to cool for a few minutes. Carefully pour the sauce into a blender or food processor along with the tahini or peanut butter and the breadcrumbs. Process until smooth, adding a little broth if necessary.
  5. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chicken breasts to the skillet and press them down to cover them in sauce. Simmer over medium-low flame for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Adjust seasoning and serve with warm tortillas