Recipe courtesy of Rick Bayless

Lacquered Chicken in Red Mole

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 4 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings
This is a dish that changed my life by inspiring me to dive into Mexican cuisine. It's the kind of dish you make for special occasions because it is packed with flavor and takes a lot of love to create, making it a meaningful experience that needs to be tried at least once.


Red Mole

Lacquered Chicken


  1. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the tomatillos 4 inches below the broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side. Scrape roasted tomatillos into a large bowl, along with any juices from the sheet.
  2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer half of the toasted sesame seeds to a large mixing bowl to combine with the roasted tomatillos; set aside the other half for serving.
  3. Remove and discard the stems, seeds, and veins from the dried chiles. Heat ¼ cup of the lard or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Tear the dried chiles into large pieces and toast in the oil until they become aromatic and their interior side has lightened in color, 20–30 seconds for each side. (You will need to work in batches.) As they're done, remove them to a large bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the skillet; reserve the fat. Cover the toasted chiles with hot tap water and allow them to rehydrate, 30 minutes.
  4. With the skillet still over medium heat, toast the almonds and garlic cloves, stirring, until they are browned and the garlic is soft, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the almonds and garlic into the bowl with the tomatillos and sesame seeds, leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet. Add the raisins to the hot skillet and stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’'ve puffed and browned slightly. Scoop them out, leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet, and add to the tomatillo mixture; reserve the fat. Set the skillet aside, off the heat.
  5. Grind the black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and anise seed to powder in the mortar; transfer the powder to the tomatillo mixture. Tear the toasted bread into large pieces and add to the mixture; roughly chop the chocolate before adding.
  6. Add 2 cups of water to the tomatillo mixture. Drain the rehydrated chiles, reserving the soaking liquid if it'’s not bitter. Otherwise, drain and substitute fresh water. Working in batches, add the drained chiles and some of the soaking liquid (or fresh water) to a blender; starting at low and moving to high speed, purée until very smooth. As you go, add more water as necessary to achieve an even consistency, similar to a thick canned tomato sauce. Use a rubber spatula to press the purée through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; discard the bits of skin and seeds that don'’t pass through. Repeat with the remaining chiles.
  7. Heat ½ cup lard (or vegetable oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When it's hot, add the chile purée; it should sizzle sharply. Stir and adjust the heat as necessary to keep the chile purée at a brisk simmer. Stir every couple of minutes until it has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes.
  8. Blend the tomatillo-nut mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra cup or so of water to keep everything moving through the blades). Pass the purée through the medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl; then add to the pot. Stir to combine and simmer over medium-low to low heat, stirring every few minutes, until the mixture is considerably darker and thicker, about 30–45 minutes.
  9. Check the thickness by dragging a spoon or rubber spatula across the bottom of the pot. If the spoon leaves a deep trail, the mixture is thickened sufficiently.Add the broth to the mole and stir well. Partially cover the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until the flavors come together and mellow, about 2 hours. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water.
  10. Season with salt (1 heaping tablespoon), and taste. Then add the sugar, stir, and taste. If necessary, add more sugar a tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go, until the mole tastes mellow and balanced: you should be able to detect hints of flavor from all the ingredients. (Note: Mole can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.) For the Lacquered Chicken in Red Mole (not in video): Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, mix together 1 cup of the mole with the agave nectar or corn syrup. Simmer over medium heat until glossy and reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes; set aside. Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets; season generously with salt. Bake until the chicken pieces are tender to the bone and the juices at the thickest part of the leg and thigh portions run clear, about 45 minutes.Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour off the juices that have collected around the chicken, then brush the pieces liberally with the mole mixture. Sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds. Bake until a glaze forms on the chicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Then serve each portion of chicken with an additional ½ cup of the mole, garnished with watercress or flat-leaf parsley.