Chicken Mole for the Block Party
I love our annual block party on the first Tuesday in August. Technically it’s part of the National Night Out Against Crime, whose goal is for neighbors to get to know each other as a crime prevention technique. In the ten years I’ve been the block captain and organizer of the party the food gets better and better. We’re inspiring each other. After reading about the fierce competition in the taco business in Seattle I decided to aim high and go for a chicken mole taco deemed the best of all the rest. Well, I’ve been to Oaxaca and like many others love the flavor but I didn’t want to spend all day making mole. One of my favorite bloggers, Dad Cooks Dinner, who has taken the class in Oaxaca, shared a weeknight mole recipe that convinced me this was the sensible route to take for a block party crowd.
Goya Mole Paste was easy to find at the Mercado Latinoin the Pike Place Market. I bought two 9-ounce jars and planned to thin it a bit beyond the three or four cup ratio suggested. The paste is intense and I knew my chicken stock or broth from poaching would be phenomenal. I did add two squares of dark unsweetened chocolate for richness and to balance the sweetness in the paste. My first taste of the sauce reminded me of hoisin sauce so it seemed my poaching technique was a good choice. People around the world like sweet, hot and salty flavors.
My favorite way to poach chicken is the Chinese White Cooked method promoted by Christopher Kimball in his new Milk Street magazine. If you want the recipe, grab it now as the link above to the online version is only good for a few weeks. He’s not giving anything away for free. This recipe makes the most tender, juicy poached chicken in my experience. Now that I’ve done it a few times I don't have to look it up. The principle is a well-flavored poaching liquid created with water, salt and a generous amount of cilantro and scallions, and smashed ginger with the secret weapon--dry sherry. The technique is the chicken is submerged in boiling liquid breast side up and simmered for 25 minutes, then turned over for 15 more minutes and then rests in the stock off the heat for 30 minutes.
For my crowd I needed four locally grown chickens from Ken’s Market, which has just about everything you might need for anything. Many specialty items you’d think required a trip to DeLaurenti’sor others in the Pike Place Market are on the shelf at Ken’s. Plus the wall of wine and the legendary service make walking to the store in my urban neighborhood feel oh, so luxurious.
I served the mole hot out of the oven along with hot tacos bundled in wet dish towels. Garnishes are the key to recreating successful restaurant style dishes so I followed the instructions and offered queso fresco, crema, chopped cabbage, pickled onions and cilantro. The block party crowd went through all 48 small street taco flour tortillas. We had no leftover mole. If you’re looking for an all ages crowd pleaser, this works.
My neighbors knocked themselves out filling up three tables with all sorts of delicious chips and dips, salads, cookies, an impressive fruit platter and a peach cobbler with ice cream. The wine selection was international with reds, whites and roses. Everyone said it was the best block party ever.