The Recipe Redux: Chicken with Mole Sauce

This is my first month participating in The Recipe Redux. Each month there is new theme and we are challenged in creating a healthy or healthier recipe based on that theme. This month we were asked to tell about our most memorable vacation meal. The moment I read this month’s theme I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

My most memorable vacation meal was one that was eaten during my honeymoon 15 years ago. I was married on August 9, 1997. My husband Rick and I took a cruise around the Carribean. This was my first cruise and I haven’t taken another once since that time. While all the food we were served on the ship was incredible it was nothing compared to the meal we ate during a stop at Cozumel, Mexico.

Our one day layover at Cozumel included a vist to some of the ancient Mayan ruins there and a stop at a small botanical garden near the beach. It was at that garden/beach where we had the most amazing meal. One that we still talk about to this very day.

The small restaurant was located right at the edge of the garden. It resembled a thatched hut with several of the sides open to the beach that ran along side the garden.  Several friendly local cats had staked out their space and wandered in and out of the open restaurant. I’m sure it’s because many of the patrons probably feed them some treats from their own plates. I know we did.

We had absolutely no idea what it was we ordered. Both of us lack any ability to speak Spanish except to say hello and our waiters knew only slightly more English. The menu was in Spanish with a few words written in English added in such as chicken and beef. Once the waiter realized that we couldn’t read the menu he pointed to a dish and said “it’s good” so that’s what we got.

When the plate arrived it had several different types of food on it. Rice, refried beans, salsa, shredded pork, beef fajita fixings with tortilla on the side and a piece of chicken topped with the most amazing sauce. All the food was incredibly delicious but the sauce that topped the chicken was out of this world. The look of the sauce did not hint at its flavor. It was simply a thick, reddish brown sauce. No flecks of spices or pieces of anything could be seen. The taste however was anything but plain. A bit spicey, a touch of sweet. a little tang and a huge amount of flavor. To this day I have no idea what it was but I think it was some type of mole sauce. I’ve seen similar chicken dishes and the color of the sauce reminds me of that dish. So, as my entry into this month’s Recipe Redux I decided to make chicken with mole sauce.

After much searching for mole sauce recipes I’ve discovered that the ingredients called for run the gamut of simple (tomatoes, dried fruit, ground nuts/seeds, chocolate and ancho chilies) to rather complex (several types of chilies, several types of seeds/nuts, etc). I had to piece together a recipe using what ingredients I could find. So here’s my recipe redux on my most memorable vacation meal.

Mole Sauce


1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup raisins or diced prunes

1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ground cloves, oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground anise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder

1 cup water

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

1/3 cup sliced almonds or 1/4 cup ground almond meal

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large sauce pan, saute the onion in the olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and saute another minute or two. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the water and the dried fruit. Simmer for several minutes until the dried fruit has softened.

Add the spices and mix well.

In a blender, grind together the almonds, sesame seeds, the tomato mixture, salt, pepper and melted chocolate. Puree until smooth.

Place your mole sauce in the refrigerator until your ready to use it.

Chicken with Mole Sauce

1-2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 to 2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into strips

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red sweet pepper, cut into strips

wine or chicken stock

1/2 cup water

In a large skillet add the olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot add the chicken strips to the pan and brown. Once they are brown remove them from the pan and add the chopped onion. Saute until softened. Add the peppers strips and saute for several minutes. Deglaze the pan using a bit of wine or chicken stock. Make sure to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the chicken back to the pan and add 1/2 cup water. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and top the chicken with the mole sauce. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked throughout. Serve over cooked rice or eat in flour tortillas.

While we were originally served flour tortillas to place the chicken in I decided to go with rice. Go with brown rice for more fiber. For those who have had WLS or are watching their carbs I would suggest making a batch of cauli-rice (cauliflower that is chopped/cooked to resemble rice). I also served some fresh salsa made with tomatoes from our garden. Homemade baked tortilla chips were included to use to scoop up the salsa.

Since I’m one of those carb watchers (to help control blood sugar levels) I portion out my rice, when used, with a mini ice cream scoop. Each scoop weighs in at 1 ounce of rice. I will eat 1 or 2 depending upon what other items are included in a meal. The scoop of rice shown in the picture is a regular sized ice cream scoop (about 4 ounces of rice). I also start by eating protein/veggies first with carbs at the end. This way I fill up on the good stuff first.

Most of the recipes I found online called for dried ancho chilies which you then had to soak and puree to make the sauce. I’ve seen them before at several of the local grocery stores but, the one time I actually want to buy some, they could not be found. Instead I went with Penzey’s ground ancho chili powder which I keep on hand. Now that I’ve made this once I will keep an eye out for the dried chilies as well as a few other ingredients called for in the more complex recipes such as tomatillos.

Why not stop by and see what the other members of The Recipe Redux have cooked up for their most memorable vacation meal. Please stop by this blog post if all of the linkup member posts do not show up below when viewing in your browser.

5 Responses to The Recipe Redux: Chicken with Mole Sauce

  1. Welcome to Recipe Redux. I have not eaten chicken with mole sauce in years. The one time I had it, I was in Ensinada Mexico (circa 1983). I should give your recipe a try!

    • Hi Liz,

      Love your site and the podcast! The sauce was pretty good but a little different from the one we had in Cozumel. From what I’ve read the sauce ingredients vary slightly from one area to another. I’d love to see what personal twist the meal makeover moms would come up with.

  2. What a great story! all the research you did on moles is so interesting! Thanks for sharing and being part of ReDux!

    • Thanks for letting me join the Recipe Redux. I enjoy reading the other posts and checking out the food pics.