Chicken Mole Tamales
Ever since my trip to Oaxaca, we learned how to make tamales filled with chicken mole wrapped in banana leaves. They were absolutely delicious and beautiful tamales.
I prefer mole that is spicy rather than sweet and this mole rojo is thick, rich, chocolate-tinged, and spicy.
This mole is manageable to make because it only requires one type of chile — guajillo chiles.
Unlike some mole recipes that contain up to ten different varieties of chiles. It delivers complex flavor and saves you a good deal of time.
The addition of roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, Mexican chocolate, and peanut butter deliver complex flavor.
Guajillo chiles create the base for this rich, smooth chicken mole. This is the perfect mole to eat as a main dish with a side of Mexican Rice or to use as a filling for tamales.
Delicious chicken is slow cooked until extra tender and then shredded for these spicy chicken mole tamales. Serve topped with mole sauce for added flavor.
Chicken Mole Tamales
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 to 3 pounds chicken breasts
- 10 to 20 dried guajillo chiles, depending on spice level
- 1 bolillo, substitute small French roll, cut into 1-inch slices
- 2 tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and halved
- 2 tomatoes, halved
- 3 cups chicken broth, reserved from boiling chicken, divided
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 2 3-ounce disks Mexican chocolate (recommend Nestle-Abuelita), coarsely chopped, see notes
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large pot, heat water, salt, onion, garlic, and chicken. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate to cool off, and then shred. Reserve broth, onion, and garlic.
- Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
- Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending. Discard water.
- On a pre-heated comal or skillet add bolillo, tomatillos, tomato, and toast for about 5 minutes on each side until bread is toasted and tomatillos and tomatoes are soft.
- Pour 1 ½ cups of broth and boiled onion and garlic into a blender and add the boiled chiles and roasted ingredients. Add peanut butter, chocolate pieces, and cocoa powder, and blend until very smooth.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet. Pour sauce into skillet and stir. Taste and season with salt if needed.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. If sauce is thick, feel free to add more broth to desired consistency.
- Add shredded chicken and stir until chicken is covered with the sauce.
- Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continuously to keep it from sticking to skillet.
- Combine lard, salt, and baking powder using an electric mixer, beat at medium-high speed until well whipped, about 1 minute.
- Add one-fourth of the masa at a time to the lard, beating between additions until thoroughly incorporated.
- Slowly add chicken stock and continue beating until dough is light and has a soft and spreadable hummus-like texture. If it’s too dry, mix in a little more broth; if your dough is too loose, add more masa harina until you get the desired texture. Add chile sauce (if using) and stir to combine.
- Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats it is ready; if it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats.
- Cover the masa and set aside.
Prepare Hojas (Corn Husks):
- Soak corn husks in water for an hour before using, rinse well with running water to take off any dust or corn husk fibers. To keep corn husks pliable and easy to work with, keep in water while filling tamales. Place a handful of wet corn husks in a colander to drain before using.
- Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand, narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with the back of a spoon in a rectangle or oval shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk.
Fill Corn Husks:
- Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling down the center of the masa. Fold both sides to the center; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Make sure it’s a snug closure so the tamal will not open during steaming. Secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamal. This will keep the tamal from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded.
- Use a deep pot or tamale steamer to steam tamales. If using a tamale steamer fill with water up to the fill line. Set the tamale rack over the water. Place tamales upright, with fold against the sides of the other tamales to keep them from unfolding. Cover pot with a tightly fitting lid. Set heat on high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Keep lid on tightly. To test if done, put one tamal on a plate and take off the corn husk. If it comes off without sticking to the tamal they are done.
- Mexican chocolate: The two most common brands are Ibarra (made by a company in Jalisco, Mexico) and Abuelita (Nestle ). These tablets contain cacao paste, sugar and cinnamon.
- To make gluten-free mole, swap in gluten-free bread or corn tortillas in the mole sauce.
Photography: Jenna Sparks