Chicken in Pumpkin-Ancho Mole Sauce
- 8 cups water, divided
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 6 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
- 5 ancho chiles (dried poblano peppers)
- 2 large jalapenos, halved
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 3 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 4 whole garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 large bunch cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 16 corn tortillas, kept warm
- 2 limes, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 avocados, halved, pitted and flesh sliced
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
- Special equipment: Food processor
In a medium saucepan, combine 6 cups water, salt, sugar, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl, add the chicken, and refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. In a medium heatproof bowl, add the ancho chiles and cover with the boiling water. Weigh down with a plate so the peppers remain under water and let them soak for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the stems when the peppers have softened.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a sheet tray toss the jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, garlic and cumin with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast until nicely caramelized with good color, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the pumpkin seeds to a dry, hot skillet on high heat. Stir often, until the seeds are golden and begin to pop. Transfer to a food processor along with roasted vegetables. Add the soaked chiles, about 2 tablespoons of chili soaking liquid, the cilantro leaves and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the processor. Puree until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, blot dry with paper towels and put into a large Dutch oven. Pour in the mole sauce and bake, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. When cool to the touch, shred the chicken and add it back to the sauce. Spoon the mole into corn tortillas and serve with lime wedges, avocado slices, shredded lettuce, red onion, and radishes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and enjoy.
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