Friday, February 15, 2008

Chicken mole & pickled vegetable salad

The Flexitarian Table is my big favorite cookbook find of the past year. I am pretty sure that Every. Single. Recipe. is delicious and amazing. For V-Day I decided to try his Chicken Mole Negro & Pickled Vegetable salad recipe.

If you have never had a mole sauce, you've been missing out IMHO. It is one of my favorites because there's chocolate in it! It is a spicy, flavorful sauce that goes wonderfully on chicken and with rice or masa harina. I served it with rice for simplicity.

The pickled vegetable salad was an adventure for me, but was delicious & easy! I love things that can be mostly completed ahead of time and don't require much prep anyway. That's what this is. Even my kids liked the veggies in this salad, they had so much fun flavor.

I have to admit that I did not like the tempeh mole version as much as I would have expected. Maybe I cooked the tempeh wrong, but it was not nearly as awesome as the chicken mole version. (I always make both the vegetarian and meat eating versions of the meals so we can compare.) It was good, but not mouthwateringly delicious as the chicken. It was kind of dry actually. Hmm.

Well here are the recipes, which I really think you will like. :) Note that this recipe serves 4 adults, you could double the amount of chicken or tempeh if you don't want to make both. Serve with rice or masa.

The vegetables used in the pickled salad are suggestions, you can use other available crunchy vegetables. The chilies give a bit of heat to the brine. The vegetables make a great snack right out of the jar if you don't want to serve it in the salad.

Chicken or Tempeh Mole (from Peter Berley's the Flexitarian Table)
Mole sauce:
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
2 large dried ancho chilies
3 cups hot water
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, seeded
Sea salt or kosher salt
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces or chopped
1 cinnamon stick

1 3 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 8 oz packages tempeh, cut into 1 inch squares
1 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Lime wedges, for serving
Chopped cilantro or scallions for garnish

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ancho chilies and fry, turning with tongs, until they blister, (take care not to burn them.) Transfer to a plate to cool. Set skillet of oil aside.

Meanwhile, season the chicken pieces all over with the salt and pepper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When the ancho chilies are cool enough to handle, break open and discard seeds. Place chilies in bowl and cover with the hot water. let soak until soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain, reserving soak liquid.

Return skillet to medium heat and add the onions and cook, stirring until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the peanuts, almonds, raisins, and all the seeds and toast until nuts and seeds are fragrant and raisins are puffed, 8-10 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, scrap contents of pan into a blender and set skillet aside. Add chipotle chilies, 1 tsp salt and softened ancho chilies and 1 cup of soaking liquid. Puree, gradually adding remaining liquid, until mixture is smooth.

Return mixture to skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Add cinnamon stick, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until mole thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick. Season with additional salt to taste and set aside.

Wick moisture from chicken with paper towels. In heavy 10 inch skillet or 3 qt casserole, heat oil over medium heat and add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Pour in half the mole and simmer until the chic ken is cooked through, about 20 more minutes.

Meanwhile, in another skillet or casserole, heat oil over medium heat and add the tempeh and cook, turning frequently until lightly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the water and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 8 minutes.

Drain tempeh and return to pan, pour in remaining mole and bring to a simmer, simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Serve the mole garnished with chopped cilantro or scallions and lime wedges.

Pickled Vegetable salad
4 cups water
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 small dried red chilies or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced
1/4 medium head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1 large bunch arugula or 1 head butter lettuce, trimmed or cored and torn for serving
Extra virgin olive oil for serving
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, toss together vegetables. Transfer them to a 2 quart jar and cover with brine. Cover jar and refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 4 months. To serve: gloss the arugula or lettuce with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss with some of the pickled vegetables.

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