This dish is truly quintessential Mexican cuisine. When done right, it is truly transcendent.
Let’s be clear, this dish is not Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex. It is steeped in Mexican heritage and has been around for generations, even centuries. Not being Mexican ourselves, we were hesitant to take on this national treasure. But, we turned to a dear friend who is Mexican by birth and is an amazing home cook. We also did weeks and weeks of research. We’re not going to say this is the best ever, because we have no place to make that claim. But folks, wait until you make this. Of course, it all starts with an amazing Mole Poblano Sauce.
How To Make Chicken Mole
Without a doubt, the most important component of this dish is the Mole Poblano Sauce. You make it up to 7 days in advance.
Once you mastered the mole sauce, the rest comes together in a snap.
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The Ingredients You Will Need
As mentioned, once you’ve got the mole sauce prepare, there is just a handful of ingredients you will need to make this iconic dish.
Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand
Chicken pieces – Bone-in, skin-on thighs and legs are perfect
Salt and pepper – For seasoning the chicken
Oil – Vegetable, canola, or olive will work
Chicken broth/stock – Can use water in a pinch
Mole sauce – Can be made well in advance (homemade is essential – click the link)
Toasted Sesame Seeds – For finishing off the dish
Tips for Perfect Chicken Mole
Sear the Chicken Until Golden – We highly recommend going with skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces. Be sure to liberally salt and pepper all over and then sear them, skin-side down, until the skin is nicely browned, about 6 minutes. If there is excess skin hanging off the edge of the thighs, cut it away with kitchen shears before searing. The crispy seared skin adds to the authentic taste of the final dish.
Watch the Sauce – Keep an eye on the chicken while it’s baking. Before placing it in the oven, you’ll ladle sauce all over the tops of the chicken. During the baking process, the sauce/skin will darken. This is what you want. However, it starts to turn a very dark brown, cover the dish with foil during the final minutes of baking. You’ll need to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Don’t Skimp on the Sauce when Serving – Once the baking is finished, your chicken will be moist and juicy. But what will set it over the top is the sauce. Plate with a nice pool of sauce on the bottom of the plate, then nestle in the chicken, then ladle enough sauce over the top to completely cover the chicken. Trust us.
EXPERT TIP: A 12-inch skillet will easily fit 3 uncooked thighs and 3 to 4 legs before searing them. They cook down while searing them. Therefore, if you want to cook four thighs and four legs, do them in two batches. And then they will all snuggle neatly into the skillet with the mole sauce.
After the chicken has been baked for the full 35 minutes, you can serve it immediately with no problem.
However, we find letting the chicken and sauce rest about 5 minutes before serving allows the sauce the thicken a bit, and any rendered fat will pool at the top of the sauce.
Simply use a small spoon to skim the excess grease off the top. Getting all of it is not necessary (or recommended).
How To Serve Chicken Mole
If plating the dish and then serving it to guests, we suggest first making a batch of classic Mexican rice. It’s commonly served alongside mole chicken.
Add a nice helping of the prepared rice along one side of the dish. Then ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce into the open portion of the plate. Place a thigh in the sauce and then place a leg against the thigh. Spoon enough sauce over the chicken pieces so they are completely covered. Garnishing with toasted sesame seeds is traditional and adds a beautiful (and tasty) touch.
If serving a crowd, this dish is perfect. If possible, set up a buffet station with baked chicken in one warming dish and then the sauce in another and let folks serve themselves. The sauce can easily be doubled or tripled.
EXPERT TIP: It’s also wonderful to use a pair of forks to shred the chicken from the baked chicken. Once the chicken has been shredded and fully removed from the bones, mix it in with the sauce. This is awesome inside a warmed corn tortilla.
No matter how you serve this dish, it’s always impressive.
Other Classic Mexican Dishes To Try
Roasted Chipotle Chicken
Chili Rellenos Stuffed with Queso
Chicken and Rice Roasted Rellenos with Red Sauce
Shrimp Tacos Dorado
Shrimp Veracruz with Pepian (Pumpkin) Sauce
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)
Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)
Classic Chicken Tortilla Soup
Pozole (Pork and Hominy Stew)
In the meantime, just take a look at this plate full of Mexican goodness. Isn’t this calling your name?
Folks, we can honestly say this is one of the best dishes we have ever produced in the H2FaL kitchen.
The depth of flavor, when done correctly, is balanced, and like nothing ever you’ve ever tasted before.
The chicken is juicy, tender, and deeply flavorful. And again…that sauce. Oh, that sauce. Every bite is a culinary fiesta!
Ready to make the best Mexican dish this side of, well, Mexico? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
- 1 12-inch skillet preferably cast-iron
- 4 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
- 4 chicken legs bone-in, skin-on
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups mole sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Salt and pepper the chicken all over.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron skillet. Working in batches, if necessary, add the chicken, skin-side down, and sear until golden, about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean platter and finish the remaining chicken (if necessary). Discard excess oil in the platter but leave the bits attached to the bottom of the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove over medium heat, and pour in the chicken broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the mole sauce into the pan and stir to incorporate it with the stock. Bring to a simmer.
- Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce in the pan and ladle some of the sauce over the chicken pieces.
- Place in the oven for 35 minutes, covering with foil if the sauce on the chicken is getting very dark (you may not need to do this).
- Remove and spoon more sauce over the top. Plate the chicken, add more sauce, and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Oh MY, it looks great! Can’t wait to cook em this Sunday!
Hi Shiela! YAY! We hope you made the mole and had great success. Let us know if you did and how it turned out! Best, Kris & Wesley
Chicken Mole’ has been a family favorite for at least 5 generations in our family. Some of my ancestors have tried to make their own mole’ sauce, but inevitably we gravitate back to the old stand by of Dona Maria Mole Mexican sauce. Not ANY other brand, and not Verde. It just doesn’t work out well. The little 8.25 oz. used to say it was made in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but now it just says “Mexico”.
BUT!!!! With that being said, I can’t wait to try Kris and Wes’ recipe to make my own Mole’!
That would be an accomplishment I would put on my headstone in our family plot in Georgetown, Texas: “Here lies ‘whatshisname’ – found out from a guy feeding a loon how to make homemade Mole’ good enough to put everybody else in this family buried here to shame”.
No pressure…. I’m sure I will not be disappointed!