This past week I was invited to participate in McCormick's Flavor Forecast for 2012. I took part in their webinar and watched as chef Mark Garcia went through the various ingredients and flavors that are going to be making a broader appearance within the culinary world this year. They also posted the 6 trends of the Flavor Forecast up on their website, along with some recipes that went with each one. They all looked and sounded delicious, but I was particularly intrigued by the Blueberry Cardamom Mexican Atole. The idea of blueberry and chocolate alone was enough to make my stomach start growling, but the physical appearance of the atole reminded me a lot of mole sauce, which is what inspired me to make this dish.
Mole is a Mexican sauce that is made from chilli peppers, broth, dark chocolate, and spices. I always love having Mole at Mexican restaurants, but I've never tried making it myself until today. I scoured the internet, looking at various Mole recipes, but they either seemed too complex to execute in a reasonable amount of time, or too simple to create the layered flavor of Mole sauce. So, in the end I picked the best parts of each one and added some of my own favorite ingredients to the mix and ended up with a pleasant surprise. Wohoo excellent Mole sauce! My only regret was not making a side of rice to serve with the dish so I had something in addition to the chicken to mop up the Mole sauce with. It was so much fun to make something new and creative, I have about three more recipes I've been tossing around in my head since the Flavor Forecast so you can expect to see some more unique and exciting creations soon! Serves six.
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Dried Whole New Mexico Chilis, stems and seeds removed
2 Dried Whole Pasilla Chilis, stems and seeds removed
3 Cups Cooked Rice (for serving)
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Blueberries
2/3 Cup Water
1/2 of a White Onion, chopped
1.5 Ounces Dark Chocolate (the chocolate I used was 85% cacao), chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Teaspoons Honey
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4-1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
Pour the vegetable oil into a large flat frying pan until it is 1 cm deep. Heat the oil and fry the whole dried chilis in it, for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove the chilis with a pair of tongs and place them in a medium sized pot with the chicken broth and water.
Drain half of the oil from the frying pan, making sure to wipe off any oil that has dripped onto the bottom of the pan, and place the onions and garlic in the remaining oil and cook over medium-low flame until the onions are soft and transparent, about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Set aside.
Cook the chilis in the broth over medium heat for about 20 minutes. They should be nice and soft. Add 3/4 cup of the blueberries and continue cooking for another 10 minutes until the berries are soft and burst easily when pressed.
Pour the blueberry chili mixture into a blender along with the sauteed onions and garlic. Cover and blend at a high speed until pureed.
Pour the puree back into the medium-sized pot and add the honey, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, remaining blueberries, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin. Cook over low heat.
Melt the butter in a large and wide shallow pan. Rub the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cumin onto the chicken breasts and then fry them in the pan until cooked all the way through, about 8 minutes on each side. Make sure to cover the pan while the chicken is cooking to help the meat retain its moisture. When done, remove the chicken breasts from the pan and place on a serving platter.
Remove the Mole sauce from the heat. Add the dark chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has melted into the sauce. When serving, plate the chicken with a side of rice and drizzle the desired amount of Mole sauce over the dish.