If a Cinco de Mayo celebration is in your future, I’ve got you covered in one word. Mole. Not to be confused with a rodent, mole (pronounced MOH-lay) is a rich, dark Mexican sauce made from chiles, seeds, nuts, spices, vegetables and fruit.
Though there are many variations of mole, the cook’s kitchen often dictates what ends up in the pot. That means the variety of chiles, both fresh and dried, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, onions, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, raisins, pineapple, plantain or bananas and chocolate contribute to the deliciousness of the concoction that is typically served with turkey, pork or chicken. These ingredients add flavor. Lots of it! But it is also filled with beneficial plant compounds. So every forkful delivers healthful benefits. Vegetable and spices reduce damage to your cells and inflammation.
For maximum health benefits and flavor, store spices away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight. That means out of the window, away from the stove, dishwasher and sink. When you open the jar you should get a strong scent of what’s in the jar. If the taste isn’t obvious, it’s time to replace. Dried ground spices typically last 2-3 years, whole spices may last 4 years and dried herbs from 1 to 3 years.
An authentic mole can take hours to make. After a bit of chopping and measuring, I turned on the Instant Pot to get this dish on the table in less than 45 minutes.
I use chicken legs and thighs because they are more forgiving than the lean breast. The dark meat won’t get dry and tough if your cooking time runs a little long. Because of that, these pieces are good in a slow cooker or braised dish. With the Instant Pot, if you find the chicken is undercooked because you stopped cooking a little too soon, you can repressurize the pot and add time, or cook on Saute with the lid off. The chicken is done when a food thermometer reaches 165° F.
Don’t have chicken pieces and parts on hand? Make the sauce and stir in some cooked, shredded chicken. Or serve with a pork loin or pulled pork. It’s also great with beans and rice. Oh, and on a taco. However you eat it, mole is a delicious celebration of Mexican culture.