This recipe for Chicken Mole Enchiladas is a simpler take on a classic Mexican dish that's easier to make but just as delicious to eat.
Last year I had the chance to travel to the beautiful city of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, which is known for its cuisine, and mole in particular. There are numerous different types of mole in Mexico, and during my trip I was able to taste tons of them, each one more nuanced and complex than the next.
Some traditional mole recipes require dozens of ingredients and take days to make. This recipe is pared down to use just the essentials. It takes far less time and effort, but still produces a rich, robust flavor.
These chicken mole enchiladas are the perfect recipe to serve at your next Mexican feast. They go beautifully with my Cheesy Baked Corn and Poblano Rice and a dollop of Smoky, Spicy Guacamole and a dash of hot sauce. Or if you're more of an enchiladas verdes kinda person, I have you covered there too.
Why this recipe works
- A simplified mole sauce thats quick, but still tastes complex.
- A streamlined process for oven frying the tortillas.
- Great for parties or serving a crowd.
- Naturally gluten free!
- Dried Chiles - I use both ancho chiles and pasilla chiles to give the mole a more interesting depth of flavor, but you can use just one type if that's easier. Ancho chillies are dried poblanos and are usually more commonly found in grocery stores. Neither of them is super spicy, but it's a good idea to wear gloves when handling them.
- Chicken - I call for using boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use any kind of chicken you like for these enchiladas. Leftover roasted chicken or store bought rotisserie chicken both make great options.
- Tortillas - Corn tortillas are traditional and work the best, but you can use flour tortillas if that's what you prefer. Just be sure they are the small taco size.
- Peanut Butter - substitute almond butter or sunflower butter if need be.
- White Onions - Not yellow onions, not red onions, but white onions. They are a bit sweeter and less pungent and make a difference in this recipe - use them if you can.
- Unsweetened Chocolate - Using unsweetened chocolate allows us to control the sweetness of the sauce. You can substitute dark chocolate, but if so, omit the added sugar.
- Mexican Oregano - This is a slightly different variety of oregano than you will find on the spice aisle of your grocery store. Look for it in the Mexican or Latin American section or buy it online. You can substitute regular oregano in a pinch, but the flavor will vary slightly.
- Blender - For the smoothest mole, a high powered blender works best. I love Vitamix, but any good quality blender will get the job done.
- Disposable Gloves - It's never a bad idea to throw on a pair of disposable gloves to protect your hands whenever working with chili peppers. If you've ever touched your eye after working with chiles, you know what why.
Step by step instructions
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the chicken thighs on a sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then shred into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.
- While the chicken cooks, place two corn tortillas in the oven, directly on the rack and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the seeds and stems from the chiles, then place them in the pan and toast for about 5-10 seconds on each side, being careful not to burn. Transfer to a bowl, then pour boiling water over top and let soak for 15-20 minutes.
- In the same pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Dice one onion and add it to the pan, then saute with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a blender.
- Drain the chiles, then add them to the blender along with the crispy tortillas (crush them up a bit first), cinnamon, oregano, cloves, chicken stock (or turkey stock, peanut butter, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Blend the mixture on high speed, letting the blender run for several minutes until the mixture is very, very smooth.
- Pour the sauce into a large pot and bring up to a boil (be careful, it will spit). Cover, then let simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, then stir in chocolate until melted and fully combined.
- Remove the peel from the the remaining onion and cut half of it into thin rounds. Set them aside, then finely dice the rest.
- Add the diced onion and 1 cup of mole sauce to the chicken, then mix to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
- Lightly brush 12 corn tortillas with vegetable oil on both sides. Place them on a sheet pan (it's okay if they overlap a bit) and place in the oven (it should still be preheated to 375 degrees F) and bake until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Take one tortilla and dip it into the mole to coat on both sides, then let the excess drip off. Transfer to a plate, spoon a generous amount of chicken inside, then roll it up like a cigar.
- Place the enchilada seam-side-down in a 9x13 inch casserole dish, then repeat until you've used up all the chicken and tortillas. If you have any chicken remaining, stuff it into the edges of the rolled tortillas in the pan so nothing goes to waste.
- Pour any remaining mole sauce over the enchiladas, then cover with foil and bake until hot, about 15-20 minutes.
- Crumble queso fresco over top, drizzle with Mexican crema, then scatter the reserved onion rounds and cilantro and serve with extra crema and avocado on the side.
Tips for success
- Move quickly when toasting the chiles - they will get bitter if they burn. A few seconds on each side is enough!
- The mole sauce should be very very smooth. If there is still some grit to it after blending for several minutes, pass it through a strainer to remove some of the chunks.
- Be careful when cooking the mole on the stovetop - it will bubble and spit, so stir constantly and cover. This is an important step to develop the flavor - don't skip it!
- Don't overcook the tortillas in the oven or they will start to crisp up and become difficult to roll. 5 minutes is plenty.
Faq About Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that typically consists of pureed dried chiles, spices, herbs, nuts, and oftentimes chocolate. Any type of sauce can be considered mole in Mexican cuisine (like guacamole), but most people associate it with the rich, complex mole poblano and its variations.
You can prep some of the ingredients in advance to help make the recipe easier. Make the mole sauce as directed and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also cook and shred the chicken up to 3 days before. You can also opt to use a store bought mole or rotisserie chicken to make it even easier.
Cover and keep leftover chicken mole enchiladas in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until heated through or microwave.
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