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DigiBites: Cabo Charlie Returns To Orinda; Brings Some Of Mexico Back With Him

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Photo: Chef Charles Vollmar/Epicurean Exchange

Editor’s Note: Orinda’s Own Chef Charles Vollmar – a favorite around the newsroom both for his acumen with food and his incurable wanderlust – has returned from a restorative trip with family south of the border. Waaay south. Chef Charlie, or “Cabo Charlie” as we call him now, brought us all a present – and it isn’t one of those nutty stuffed iguanas. Welcome back, Chef!

Hola mis amigos!
My family and I have just returned from Cabo San Lucas, where we enjoyed some amazing meals! I really enjoy being served and pampered on vacation, but I do miss cooking! I am always taking photos and mentally dissecting my meals so I can share with my followers and students on my return. So, less then 12 hours after returning home, I was at the market and in the kitchen re-creating one of my favorite dishes for my family and devoted followers.

I am developing a series of classes on the cuisine of Baja California, which will include this dish and other favorites from our travels.

In the meantime, to try this dish yourself, feel free to use the published recipe or visit the Epicurean Exchange Blog for this recipe and other favorites. All of the ingredients are locally available and the results are delicious! Please try the recipe (I attest that it is not difficult, and my family agreed the results were amazing – better than we had in Mexico – they love me, and my cooking, a lot!

For all of my traveling-cooking friends, please know that Epicurean Exchange Culinary Travel is currently developing 3 culinary tours of Mexico (for winter 2020), including the Yucatán Peninsula (Tulum), Oaxaca and Mexico City! More information to come!

MOLE VERDE DE POLLO
(Chicken Braised in Green Mole Sauce)

For the Chicken:

8 chicken legs
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs cilantro
Kosher salt

For the Mole Sauce:

3/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, ground
8 medium-size tomatillos, husks removed, and cut into quarters
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 serrano chiles (seeded or not, according to taste as the seeds are the hottest part of chiles, use if preferred)
4 poblano chiles, roasted (see note below), skinned, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 romaine lettuce leaves, coarsely chopped
3 sprigs cilantro
3 sprigs epazote (if not available, you can use parsley)
4 cups chicken stock, strained, from cooking the chicken, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For garnish: Mexican crema, Tajín seasoning, pumpkin seeds and cilantro sprigs

•  Place the chicken pieces, onion, carrot, garlic, and cilantro, in a stockpot with cold water to cover.  Add salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while you make the mole.

•  Remove 4 cups of the broth the chicken was cooked in, strain and set aside.

•  Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic and serrano chiles in a saucepan with two cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about five minutes, until the tomatillos become soft. Transfer the mixture to a blender; add the chopped poblanos, and lettuce and puree until smooth. Add the ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro and epazote (or parsley), and puree again until smooth.

•  Heat the oil in the original saucepan; add the mole, and stir continuously as you gradually add the remaining two cups of chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for about thirty minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning or sticking.  Season to taste with kosher salt.

•  Remove the cooked chicken pieces from the broth to a covered casserole dish. Cover the chicken with the mole sauce. Heat the sauce to a low-simmer, cover and cook for  20 – 30 minutes or until the chicken is “falling off the bone”.

•  To serve, ladle some of the mole sauce in wide, shallow soup bowl; place one or two pieces of chicken in each bowl, ladle more mole over, and garnish with Mexican crema, pumpkin seeds, a sprinkle of Tajín seasoning and whole cilantro springs.  Serve with plenty of warm flour and/or corn tortillas.

•  Note:  To remove the skins from poblano chiles, place them over a gas flame on the stove top or grill, or under a broiler, turning frequently until they are completely charred. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow them to steam for 10 – 15 minutes to loosen the skins. Remove the blackened skins with the fingers, and open to remove the seeds, pod and stem.  The flesh can them be chopped to add to the recipe.

Serves 4

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Drooling. I don’t have the patience to cook it up but my lady friend loves doing stuff like this. I will hand her a Chardonnay every once in a while to keep her focused.

  2. Welcome back. We love Cabo and have been blessed to attend several weddings down there. Great food and drink and the people are warm and friendly. Where do you find your recipes? Does this come from private households or the (great) tourist restaraunts on the beach? We loved visiting the markets while we were there.

    • I wish I had more friends to visit in Cabo! This recipe, as usually happens, was similar to a dish I had in a really good restaurant, and came home, did a bit of research and tweaking, and this is what you get!

  3. We were going to try this tonight because we happen to have most if not all of the ingredients. Had to push it back until tomorrow night due to a late start but we love this style of cooking and we’re going to give it a try.

    • I’m sorry. Let me know once you do; always curious how you like it. Hope the alternative dinner tonight was good!

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