Getting out your festive decorations yet? Gathering those special once-a-year recipes everyone loves? No holiday season would be complete without a bucket list of must-haves. As the year draws to a close and your home starts to fill with good cheer, we wanted to offer a few additions to your merry-making routine.
Besides making a playlist of your favorite seasonal tunes, mailing a letter to Santa, or hosting a good old fashioned cookie baking party, we have some delectable treats that are easy to add to any menu. Plus, they’ll warm you right up if you live somewhere that’s already getting chilly!
First up, and trust us on this one because it’s a bit radical: mole instead of gravy. We’ve tried it (just to make sure it goes with most holiday menus) and the results are amazing. It makes turkey, ham, and seafood taste even more savory and delicious, plus it’s wonderful on mashed potatoes and green beans (even as a condiment on leftover sandwiches).
Traditional Mole Sauce
3 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil, divided
5 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs or turkey
3 cups low-salt chicken broth 2 cups orange juice
1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 ounces dried pasilla chilies,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1 ounce dried negro chilies,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1/4 cup raisins 4 (3 x 1/2-inch) strips orange peel (orange part only)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 (3.1-ounce) disk Mexican chocolate,** chopped
Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot; sauté until lightly browned, adding more oil by tablespoonfuls as needed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to large bowl.
Return chicken and any juices to pot. Add broth and orange juice; bring just to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chilies and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chilies are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Coarsely shred chicken and return to sauce; stir to coat. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before serving.
Transfer chicken mole to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with warm tortillas.
*Dried chilies are available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets. Dark, sweet, grainy-textured Mexican chocolate disks flavored with cinnamon are available online.
From all of us at Vidanta, here’s wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season.