Mole (pronounced “mo-LEY,” as in, “Holy moly that is some good sauce”) is a traditional Mexican sauce with numerous variations, though, in most recipes, it includes a rather unorthodox dinner ingredient: chocolate. Several complicated recipes exist for mole, though I believe some of these recipes involve lengthy steps—for example boiling chicken stock with cinnamon sticks and allspice berries instead of just adding those ground spices—which are rather unnecessary and produce negligible taste results. While this recipe may seem lengthy, creating this sauce shouldn’t take most experienced cooks more than an hour to prepare. A good mole, as my former kitchen manager described it, should be a great-tasting enchilada sauce with a hint of Mexican chocolate—still savory, but not too sweet.
Everyone loves chocolate during the holiday season, so consider treating your guests to some pheasant mole enchiladas, guaranteed to both spice up and sweeten their holiday spirits.
Caution: It is important to completely seed all chile peppers, as spice resides in seeds. Consider wearing gloves. Any leftover seeds will add extra spice to sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
- 16 ounces pheasant meat, deboned and cut into chunks
- 12 6-inch corn tortillas, (3 per enchiladas per person)
- 3 on-vine tomatoes, roasted and peeled
- 3 tomatillos, roasted and peeled
- 3-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced and sautéed
- 2 ancho chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 2 guajillo chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 2 chipotle chile pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 tablespoon dry thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 wedges of Ibarra Mexican chocolate (approximately 1 ounce)
- 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
Pheasant enchilada mix:
- 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Light dusting of salt and pepper on chicken
- Garnished with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Mexican cheese blend
- Sour cream
- Chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse tomatoes and peel husk off tomatillos and spray them with canola oil. Place in roasting tray or broiler pan and slide into oven. Meanwhile, in a deep medium sauté pan, heat thin layer of canola oil on medium-high to 350 degrees. Skin and debone 16 ounces of pheasant and cut into chunks. Lightly salt and pepper all sides and add to hot oil to sear. Once most sides are brown, add remaining ingredients of enchilada mix, including liquids and spices, to sauté pan and turn heat to low.
After approximately 15 minutes, check tomatoes and tomatillos. Remove once soft and skin is loose. Set aside. In a medium sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon of lard and heat on medium, dice medium yellow onion and add to sauce pan. As onion sautés, stem and seed dried chile peppers.
After 30-40 minutes of pheasant meat simmering in its own pan, you should be able to use two forks to pull apart pheasant meat. While preparing mole sauce, occasionally take a minute to continue to shred pheasant meat. Once completely shredded, pheasant will fully soak up liquids.
After you have removed roasted tomatoes and tomatillos from their roasting tray, add dried chiles to same tray and place in oven to toast. Remove after 5 minutes. Once diced onion is soft, add 2 cups of chicken stock along with toasted dry chiles. Boil chiles in stock until they are soft.
Remove skin of tomatoes and tomatillos, peel two cloves of garlic and add all to food processor. Add contents of medium sauce pan, including onion, stock and chiles, once chiles are rehydrated. Add mole sauce spices (everything except chocolate and remaining 1-1/2 cups of chicken stock) to food processor and blend thoroughly. Once thoroughly blended, add back to medium sauce pan. Add chocolate and remaining chicken stock and set to simmer. Salt to taste.
Finally, to prepare enchiladas, in a large skillet, heat half inch of canola oil on medium to 350. Once oil is heated, place corn tortillas, one at a time, in oil. Flip literally after 3 to 5 seconds, cook for 3 to 5 seconds longer, than place on napkin-covered plate. Cook all needed tortillas this way. Place a line of shredded pheasant meat (little over 1 ounce) in center of tortilla, roll tightly, and place crease down in roasting tray. Cover rolled tortillas with mole sauce and Mexican cheese blend, place in oven at 425 until cheese is melted. Remove. Use spatula to serve onto plate. Dollop sour cream, garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Former line cook and passionate denizen of the outdoors, Jack Hennessy is the author of the blog “Braising the Wild.” He lives with his wife in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @WildGameJack or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BraisingtheWild.
Photo Credit: Dara Hennessy