Wow – what a difference a year can make! On this day last year I gave all my reasons for not following the National Calendar to celebrate Baklava Day (too dang early in the year) and why I wasn’t baking bread on National Home-baked Bread Day.
This year, while it’s not Tuesday (as in Tijuana Tuesday in our house), I was still in a Spicy frame of mind. New Mexican spice that is. Over the summer, we spend a few days in Taos and Santa Fe. That craving for good New Mexican food has lingered ever since, but more on that later.
A year ago today I took a moment to wish our son a happy birthday. Last year, he had just walked his daughter down the aisle. Such a proud papa. This year, he’s a grandfather. Such a thrill. Happy Birthday, Jay. We love you!
Now, back to New Mexico. Much to our surprise, the first morning in Taos, we awoke to the sounds of people in the plaza. While we slept, tents and booths were erected and a farmers market was in full swing. It was amazing. Nearly every booth offered a variety of vegetables, home-made tortillas and an assortment of pepper. We spend the better part of the morning shopping the open-air market. All I could think was if I had these ingredients at home, imagine the awesome dishes we’d enjoy!
If you have access to true New Mexican Chilis, that’s awesome. If not, there are a number of companies on line. I wish I could tell you which one is the best, but I am not familiar with any of them. I’m just glad that we stocked up, took beautiful peppers home and froze some for later.
Now if you’ve been around awhile, you might be familiar with my Cheater’s Mole. This time around, we made a few minor changes. Instead of using chicken breasts, I used thighs. The chicken stock was reduced by a cup (to intensify the mole flavors of the concentrate), Chili Peppers were added as a garnish, and New Mexican Red Chili Powder was added to the sauce for even more heat.
Cheater’s New Mexican Chicken Mole
2 large New Mexican Chili Peppers
16.75 oz jar Dona Maria Mole Concentrate
2-1/2 cups Chicken Stock
New Mexican Red Chili Powder to taste
3 lbs Boneless Chicken Thighs
8 medium Flour Tortillas
Cooking Spray as needed
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place whole chili peppers on the hot skillet, roast until beginning to blacken and blister, turning as needed.
Remove from heat, let cool. Remove stems. Slice one pepper into rounds, cut remaining pepper into narrow strips. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a large casserole dish on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and set aside.
Empty mole concentrate a blender. Pour chicken stock into the blender with the mole. Blend until completely incorporated. Heat sauce in a pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. The mole will begin to thicken and resemble a chocolate pudding. Season with a little New Mexican Red Chili Powder. Whisk to incorporate, taste the heat level and adjust as desired. (If too hot, add more chicken stock and continue to simmer). Once warmed, remove from heat.
Trim any excess fat from chicken thighs. Set aside.
Pour a layer of the Mole sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Arrange thighs over the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over chicken, cover dish with foil.
Bake in the heated oven for about 90 minutes, until sauce is dark and thick, chicken fork tender.
When ready to serve, heat a flat griddle. Spray tortillas with cooking spray, warm on griddle just until pliable.
Serve chicken garnished with roasted peppers and warm tortillas.
Super Easy Mexican Refried Beans
1 can Spicy Refried Beans
1 tablespoon Bacon Drippings
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
Place beans, bacon drippings and seasoning in a bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and continue to heat another 2 minutes or until heated through.
Farmhouse Mexican Rice
2 firm Roma Tomatoes
2 whole Jalapeno Peppers
2 cups Water
1 box Farmhouse Mexican Rice
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
Chop tomatoes, set aside. Stem peppers, dice and set aside.
Fill saucepan with water. Add seasoning mix from rice, whisk to blend. Add rice, salt, tomatoes and peppers. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Fluff and serve.