MOLE NEGRO: Black mole
Rich, thick, velvety smooth, and deeply colored, mole negro is the queen of moles. Making it can be a big production, too, a seemingly endless series of toasting, blackening, grinding, and frying to produce that mystically deep, almost black color. This slow cooker version is just as delicious and much easier. The tiny touch of chocolate at the end seems odd, but it is exactly the right amount of sweetness needed to balance the powerful chiles. You will taste the difference.
6 chicken breasts or 12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
5 chiles negros, stemmed and seeded
3 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 large ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chipotle chile, stemmed and seeded
½ white onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1½ Roma tomatoes, diced
2 large tomatillos, husked, washed, and diced
½ firm banana, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons whole almonds
2 tablespoons raw peanuts
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole anise seed
2 teaspoons whole dried Mexican oregano
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups Caldo de Pollo, or more as needed
1 tablespoon crushed Ibarra Mexican chocolate
Toasted sesame seeds
Place all the ingredients except the chicken and chocolate in a 5-quart slow cooker. Set the chicken on top. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone. Remove the chicken. If you like, you can remove the skin and bones now, or you can serve it as is, which is the traditional way. Set the chicken on a warm platter covered with aluminum foil to keep warm while you finish the mole.
Transfer contents of slow cooker to a blender. Add the chocolate and blend on high for several minutes, until perfectly smooth. Check the seasoning; moles should taste slightly underseasoned, and never salty. The mole should be thick and very smooth. For a velvety texture, pass the sauce through a food mill to remove any remaining skins and fibers. If necessary, add a little water or broth to thin the sauce to a coating consistency.
To serve, liberally ladle the mole over the chicken, then lightly dust with the sesame seeds.
The sauce can be cooked without the chicken, but if you do, make it with Caldo de Pollo for the best flavor. The mole can also be made meatless, using vegetable stock, for a vegetarian version.