Mexican World Tour – Simple Chicken Mole – #FlavourofTogether

Spicing it up with Simple Chicken Mole:

A simple mole is something of a contradiction in terms.  According to Wiki an authentic mole will have anything from 20 to over 30 ingredients and will comprise at least 3 different chillis, in addition to ingredients to create a balance of five different taste sensations, including hot (from the chillis) sour (tomatillo or lime), sweet (dried fruit, sugar or sweetened chocolate), spices and thickeners (corn tortillas or nuts).  I love mole and have tried a Puebla regional chicken mole as part of the Mexican gastronomic festival at Mestizo last year.  After that event I wasn’t suprised to discover that the term mole covers a whole range of chilli spiced sauces used in regional Mexican cookery.  Mostly far too complicated for me to try making for myself, unless I was cooking for a special event.  But, challenged by Schwartz and McCormick to create and test a recipe to showcase one of their 2014 flavour themes, I picked ‘Mexican World Tour’.  And, a good selection of spices in the store cupboard does make this kind of cookery much easier.  I suspected this recipe would freeze well too – and since I made enough for four, I did just that and like many stews the texture and flavours actually seem to improve if anything once frozen and reheated.


I’ve spent hours surfing the net, looking for different mole recipes and trying to find how the basic components should be mixed together.  In the end I took this recipe and adapted it to create something that I hope is close to the ‘five pillars’ concept by adding back in lime(I couldn’t find tomatillos, even in Waitrose!) and more chilli varieties, cheating just a little by using Luchito chilli paste which is made from three chilli varieties as well as oil, onions, agave,  balsamic, garlic, salt and spices.   Then, I added in a few dried smoked chipotle chillis for extra depth and balanced out the spices with cumin and cinnamon together with some dried oregano.  My sauce was thick enough with just the peanut butter so I didn’t add tortilla or bread and, perhaps because I used up some Green and Blacks cooking chocolate  rather than finding authentic Mexican chocolate, together with the agave sweetened Luchito, I didn’t need to add sugar or dried fruit.

Chicken Mole

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Serve Hot
Region American


  • 1 Lime (This is a substitute for tomatillas which I couldn't find.)
  • 2 teaspoons Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 4-6 Chicken thighs with skin on (Or if you prefer, you can joint your own chicken!)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 1 tablespoon Unsweetened Peanut Butter
  • 50g Dark Chocolate (At least 70%)
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Luchito chilli paste (Or chilli powder - start with 1 teaspoon and adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Granules (Or 2 cloves of garlic)


  • 2 Small Smoked Chipotle Chillis (If you are using chilli powder try to get hold of these to add a smokey richness.)
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds


Step 1 If you are using them,soak the chipotle chillis in warm water for 10 minutes then remove stalks and chop finely. While the chillis are soaking, chop the onion and soften over a low heat in a heavy based saucepan for 5 minutes in half the olive oil.
Step 2 Add the garlic and spices and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes to release the flavours of the spices and soften the garlic
Step 3 Stir through the tomatoes, lime juice, peanut butter, chipotle chillis, oragano, and add about 300ml of water or stock
Step 4 Cook for 10 - 20 minutes to reduce down, then stir through chocolate, and cocoa powder. Blitz with a stick blender or in your food processor till you have a rich sauce.
Step 5 Taste and adjust seasoning, adding additional chilli powder if you want a hotter mole. The sauce can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen
Step 6 Brown the chicken thighs quickly in an ovenproof casserole, then cover with the mole and put in the oven at 160c
Step 7 Cook for at least 40 minutes, till the chicken is tender
Step 8 Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, with steamed rice with a little fresh coriander.

The result is a spicy, deep, rich sauce that is ‘long on the palate’.  I’m mildly disappointed that it isn’t as dark brown or as smooth (apparently I should be straining it through a fine sieve for that) as the version I tried at Mestizo, but it works very well in terms of flavour.  It’s probably a little lighter than a classic mole too, simply because the base is tomato and nuts rather than corn-bread or tortilla.

Chicken Mole

I’m quite impressed with myself.  If I hadn’t had the Luchito in the fridge , I’d have hunted around a little more for some different dried chillis to compliment the chipotle chillis, as it was a combination of the Luchito and my range of Schwartz spices worked a treat.  The mole sauce by itself can be used with a variety of different bases.  I’d be quite happy eating it spooned over a jacket potato!

Right now Schwartz are looking for your own flavour stories too.   It’s all part of a massive birthday party!   In 2014, McCormick, parent company of the herbs and spices brand  Schwartz that we know so well in the UK, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The year long celebration kicks off with the launch of the 125th Anniversary Edition of the Flavour Forecast and the Flavour of Together programme, with the goal of connecting people around the world as they share 1.25 million stories about the special role food and flavour plays in our lives through. The company has pledged to donate $1 to United Way Worldwide and it’s UK partner Focus on Food, for every story shared on the Schwartz website, Facebook page or other social channels, so if you’d like to take part why not check out the Schwartz Cooking Club on Facebook or their own website.  This particular post is an entry into the Foodies100/Schwartz Flavour of Together challenge.

Schwarz Spices

In addition to being my entry for the #FlavourofTogether challenge, since all the dried ingredients and the peanut butter I used were from my store cupboard, the Luchito was in the fridge and even the chocolate was left over from baking brownies the other day, I’m submitting this to the No Waste Food Challenge that I’m hosting on behalf of Elizabeth this month. If you’ve got a leftovers recipe, why not link up here – you’ve got till the end of the month to take part!

No Waste Food Challenge


Disclaimer:  I was provided with spices and a supermarket voucher as contribution to my costs for developing and testing this recipe.



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  1. says

    I’m not a fan of mole, I’ve tried to like it but it’s just too rich for me!! I’ve even had an American friend cook it for me and still I wasn’t keen……but, this is s great entry for the Schwartz flavour challenge though!

    • says

      There are lots and lots of different types of mole Karen – some don’t have chocolate, some are hotter – there’s even a green one based on fresh herbs. Even at Mestizo, they have several regional variations – essentially a bit like curry there’s no one size fits all. I’m sure you’d find one that worked for you.

  2. says

    We grow tomatillos, or at least we try to. Last year was a complete right off, but we did well the year before. I do like the flavours of Mexico and love a good mole.

  3. says

    I adore chicken mole but never got it quite right and despite this being California.,. very few restos really do this dish justice.. and I always want to tweak the recipe. Thanks for this Fiona

  4. Jenn Gillies says

    I lived in Mexico for about a year and my kids father is Mexican, so I am a huge fan of mole… I have a craving for Green Mole right now… but when I watched my neighbor in Mexico make it from scratch I was quite intimidated… but feeling a bit emboldened now. I like the Oaxacan mole for the rich depth of color and flavor and how it was as close to the original using what I could source here in the UK. I also made the beautiful wonderful miraculous find of tomatillos!! I should have bought the entire supply as now we have moved and I am not very hopeful of finding them again. They were in a little chilli shop in Brighton Marina called appropriately “The Chilli Shop” I just saw you can shop online… wooohooooo

    In any case, my husband be true blue british was blown away by the variety of layers and the way the mole plays on your palette. Traditionally in Mexico the chocolate based one is served with turkey as well. We are vegetarians and so will serve with either vegetables or Quorn. Now if I could just source a good supply of Masa de Harina we will be loving it!

    As far as the US, being that is where I am originally from, sourcing high quality pastes is as easy as your local Walmart or at least it was a few years ago when I was last there. And so many different chillis and herbs that I cant seem to find here as well. You did really great considering how challenging I find sourcing stuff. Mine does turn out darker, I wonder why. But I dont think I use the peanut butter… ah ground pumpkin seeds… LOVED reading this… Mexican for dinner tonight…. sorted!

    • says

      Ah in Brighton – I went to Uni there – often somewhere you can find quirky ingredients! The Luchito paste is, I believe, based on Oaxacan chillis (three varieties), so you might like it.

      I’m wondering if I didn’t brown the spices enough, I was very nervous of burning them…

      • Jenn says

        I bet that is it. I was dreaming of mole last night and remembered as well that charring your veg is essential. When I used to cook with my former sister in laws they were always slapping my hand for taking the veg off too early from the fire. I was like “But its BURNING!” They were like… EXACTLY! There is apparently a very very fine line… same with the spices I suppose. I need to find me some Luchito now. I am guessing that it too would need to be fried a bit in oil (much like we do with Indian pastes) with the spices.

        • says

          yes it’s very like a mexican version of a curry paste, it also works stirred through mayo and things – very versatile stuff. I think they sell it online and it is stocked in some waitrose now

  5. says

    I’ve also searched in vain for tomatillos but I suspect they’ll become easier to get hold of in a few years, just as some of the dried chillies have that are now available. I love the sound of your mole and it is something I’d love to make soon.

  6. says

    I have never tried mole below but have the Luchito smoky paste at home so may just try cooking it. Its nice to discover authentic mexican foods as the one’s in the restaurants tend to be the same fare e.g. quesadillas, burritos etc.

  7. says

    Already bookmarked. I haven’t actually ever made my own mole but have been wanting to for a while, since travelling around Mexico 10 years ago to be exact! Yours sounds totally delish, and I’d happily wolf that dish down right now. With a beer.

    • says

      Luchito is actually a pretty good way to simplify it. The main reason it SHOULD be complicated is that you need at least 3 types of chilis, so luchito kind of short-changes that!

  8. says

    Great to see so much love for our product, thanks for all the nice comments Gran Luchito lovers! Love the idea of using the paste as a cheat ingredient in a mole, it is one of those dishes that can be a little off-putting when you see the list of ingredients so a shortcut is very handy. We’ll definitely be giving this a go at some point. The main ingredient in our paste is the amazingly smoky Pasilla Oaxaca chilli, an oak-smoked variety rarely found outside of Mexico.

    • says

      Thanks Alex. I did a little research into how to make an authentic mole and it appears that a lot of the challenge is getting that mixture of chilis right. There are several sorts of mole too, including an Oaxaca one, so perhaps you should be making a Luchito mole spice mix?

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