A traditional Mexican mole verde, sometimes called pipian verde, is a cooked green sauce based on ground pumpkin seeds, green chiles and tomatillos. While dark moles are very complicated, have lots of ingredients and take hours to make, mole verde is fresh, vibrant and easier to prepare.
Travel around Mexico and you will find that each region of the country has a different version of a sauce referred to as mole…some being dark, rich and complex while others are green and vibrant. Most Mexican families have been preparing their own version of mole for so long that they don’t have an exact recipe and prepare it according to the ingredients they have on hand during different times of the year. I too alter my mole verde recipe from time to time but it always starts with a basic green mole paste that I developed years back.
Green Mole Paste
Makes two 1/4 cup portions
- 1/3 c. pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds) toasted until lightly golden
- 1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp. peanuts (I use dry roasted)
- 2 Tbsp. bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
- 4 tsp. pumpkin seed oil
- 4 tsp. peanut or canola oil
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Place all ingredients in a blender or processor and blend until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of peanut butter. The paste recipe makes enough to be used twice and freezes well. It can easily be doubled or tripled, and frozen. Because of the oil in this paste, it stays pliable enough to scoop out what you need even when frozen.
Roasted Chicken Topped With Mexican Mole Verde Sauce
Serves four, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 or more serrano or jalapeño peppers (according to spiciness desired) seeded, cut into pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 large poblano pepper, charred, seeded, skin removed, cut into pieces
- 3 – 4 tomatillos, husked, washed, charred and cut into quarters (canned may be used)
- a handful (about a 1/3 c.) fresh cilantro, trimmed of thick stems
- 3 – 4 Tbsp. green mole paste, see recipe above, store bought may be substituted
- 1/2 c. or more chicken stock, homemade is preferable for a richer flavor
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 roasted or store bought rotisserie chicken, cut into serving pieces, any accumulated juices reserved
Heat oil in a skillet and add the chopped onion, serrano pepper and garlic then cook until softened. Place in a food processor or blender along with the chopped poblano pepper, tomatillos, cilantro and mole paste and process until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the skillet and add the chicken broth. Stir in any accumulated juices from the roasted chicken, if using, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. The mole will thicken as it stands so you might want to thin it with chicken stock or water if you are not going to use it right away.
To serve the roasted chicken with mole verde, ladle some sauce onto a plate, top with chicken and spoon a little additional sauce on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.
- Pepitas are hulled, green pumpkin seeds that can be found in Mexican markets. I get mine in the bulk section at my regular market (Fresh Market).
- If you do not wish to make the mole paste, you can find mole pastes in jars and plastic containers on the international aisle of your local grocery store, Mexican market and online. There are many varieties so make sure that it is a green (verde) mole paste.
- For the paste, if you don’t have peanuts you can use almonds and if your don’t have breadcrumbs you can use crackers instead.
- Tomatillos are herbal, tangy, citrusy and are essential in this recipe. They are about two inches in diameter, plump, bright green and surrounded by a papery husk that peels right off. After peeling, they have a slight stickiness that washes off easily.
- If fresh tomatillos aren’t available, canned ones that are drained can be substituted.
- You can char the peppers and tomatillos over an open flame or under a broiler.
- I use a homemade chicken stock that gives the mole a rich flavor however store bought broth can be substituted.
- You can add a few romaine, chard or spinach leaves for a deeper green mole, if you wish.
- Moles can be made a day or two in advance, actually the flavor will improve. If so, the sauce will have thickened and will need to be thinned with a little stock or water.
You might be more familiar with the dark, thick and rich moles which often contain lots of ingredients such as chocolate, fruits and spices and take days to prepare. However my mole verde, green sauce, is not complicated, has a fresh taste and will take less than an hour to make…less than 30 minutes if you already have made the paste. While I will never profess that my mole verde recipe is “authentic” Mexican, it certainly is a flavorful sauce that I enjoy preparing. The sauce goes great with roasted chicken but also makes an excellent topping for chicken enchiladas, seafood or even used in a hearty pork stew. When you want to serve your family and friends something a little different, please think about making a roasted chicken and topping it with mole verde, I believe you will enjoy the flavors of this Mexican inspired dish.