Mole chichilo is one of the seven famous mole recipes from Oaxaca, the region of Mexico most renowned for its mastery of these complex sauces. Chichilo is characterised by a delicate anise flavour from the inclusion of avocado leaves, and the remarkable flavour of the chilhuacle chillies.
- 1 kg skinless chicken, cut into large pieces
- 1 white onion, halved
- ¼ garlic bulb, plus 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- 2 cups small red potatoes, halved
- 1 medium choko, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1 cm slices
- 1 cup green beans, trimmed
- 6 pasilla chillies (see Note)
- 6 chilhuacle chillies (see Note)
- 4 corn tortillas
- 5 tomatillos
- 3 avocado leaves
- ½ tsp mixed dried aromatic herbs (such as marjoram, thyme, oregano)
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 allspice
- 1 clove
- 1 cup fresh corn masa, crumbled (see Note)
- 2 tbsp pork lard or vegetable oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the chicken, half the onion, garlic bulb, 1 tsp salt and the water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Set aside chicken and broth.
Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan with water and heat over medium until boiling. Add the potato, choko and green beans and cook until tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove as each vegetable is cooked, discarding the water when finished. Set aside.
Clean the pasilla and chilhuacle chillies by wiping with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Pull off the stems and tear a slit down the length of each chilli. Open the chillies, scrape out and reserve all the seeds. Pull out and discard the veins.
Heat a comal or heavy frying pan on medium heat until hot. Place the opened chillies on the hot pan and toast lightly on both sides for 30 seconds each or until you observe a slight colour change. As they are done, transfer them to a bowl. Pour in enough hot water to cover. Soak for 5 minutes or until they become soft and flexible. Drain, discarding the soaking liquid. Transfer to a blender with some of the chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Set aside the chilli puree.
Meanwhile, on the same hot pan, toast the chilli seeds for about 5–7 minutes or until black. Set aside in a medium bowl. Next, toast the tortillas for about 5–7 minutes or until completely blackened. Break into pieces and add to the bowl. Place the tomatillos, garlic cloves and remaining onion on the hot comal. Roast for about 7–9 minutes or until almost completely charred. As each are done, set aside in the bowl.
Turn off the heat under the comal and add the avocado leaves, dried herbs, cumin seeds, allspice and clove on the hot comal. Heat for 1 minute or until fragrant. Set aside the avocado leaves separately. Place remaining spices in the bowl with the tomatillos. Transfer the tomatillo mixture to a blender and add some chicken broth. Blend until smooth. Set aside the tomatillo puree.
Place the corn masa into the blender and add some chicken broth. Blend until pureed. Set the blender aside.
In a 4-litre heavy-based saucepan over medium, heat the pork lard or oil until it starts to smoke. Pour in the chilli puree and tomatillo puree. Increase heat to high. Add the masa puree by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve into the hot puree. Whisk until incorporated. Add the avocado leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the consistency is like a cream sauce. If necessary, adjust the consistency with chicken broth or water. Season to taste with salt. Heat until the oil rises to the top.
To serve, ladle onto serving plates. Add the vegetables and chicken. Drizzle over more sauce. Serve hot.
• Masa harina and dried chillies are available from Mexican grocers. If fresh masa in unavailable, use prepare masa from dried masa harina (for tortillas) by following the instructions on the product.
• Chilhuacle chilli is a specialty of Oaxaca and quite difficult to find outside of the region, so if a chilli must be substituted, the guajillo is best.