A mole is far more than mere sauce. ‘The King of Mexican cuisine,’ writes Patricia Quintana in The Taste of Mexico (1986). It’s a true Mexican mélange, available in a thousand different variations. One of the richest, and certainly the most famous, is the mole poblano from Puebla: it melds anise, clove, cinnamon, black peppers and chillies with garlic, tomatillos, sesame seeds, ground almonds, peanuts and bitter chocolate. A complex and time-consuming dish, sure, but magnificent, too. This is a green version, thickened with toasted pumpkin seeds and made verdant with coriander, tomatillo and lettuce. It’s rich and comforting, with a slight chilli kick.
To make the sauce, heat a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then pour in the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. When the first seed pops, cook and stir for up to 5 minutes, until all have popped. Leave to cool. Grind in a food processor or spice grinder, then stir into
Put the tomatillos and chillies into a blender. Tear the lettuce leaves and add to the blender, along with the onion, garlic and coriander. Grind the cumin, peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, then add to the blender and blitz until smooth.
Heat the lard or oil in a large saucepan and, when hot, add the pumpkin seed mixture and cook, stirring, until it thickens and darkens – about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillo and spice blend and cook, stirring for a few more minutes, until darker still.
Shred the chicken, removing the skin, and add to the simmering sauce. Cook to heat through for 10 minutes. Serve with rice.
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