This is one of my favourite Mexican dishes. Usually prepared for festivals and special occasions, it varies from region to region. The mole, or sauce, contains many different ingredients, but none of them dominates the others. Instead they combine to make a rich and distinctive blend. Don’t be put off by how time consuming the mole is to make. It can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for up to a week before using. Although there are a lot of chillies in this dish, they are all fairly mild, so it isn’t particularly hot.
Wipe the chillies to remove any dirt. Split them lengthways, removing and discarding the stems, seeds and any membranes. Arrange on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven, pour over enough boiling water to cover (keep the chillies submerged by placing a spoon on top of them) and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Tip into a blender or food processor with the soaking water and puree. Pass through a sieve or food mill and set aside.
Turn the oven up to 170˚C. Spread the almonds and peanuts over a baking sheet and toast in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool, then blitz in the blender or food processor until finely ground. Set aside.
Tip the sesame seeds into a frying pan and dry roast over a medium heat until they start popping and are golden brown. Grind until fine, using a spice mill or a pestle and mortar, and set aside. Dry-roast and grind the oregano in the same way as the as the sesame seeds and set aside.
Reset the oven to 200˚C.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the garlic to the pan and fry until dark brown , taking care not to burn, or the mole will be bitter. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place the red peppers and tomatoes on a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 40 minutes, adding the prunes to roast with them for the last 10 minutes.
Skin and deseed the roasted peppers and tomatoes, then place in a blender or food processor along with the roasted prunes, ground almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds and oregano and the fried onions and garlic. Add the tortilla or bread. Blitz until smooth, then push through a fine sieve and set aside. Set the oven to 140˚C.
Pour 4 tablespoons of the remaining oil or fat into a large flameproof casserole. Add the cinnamon stick and fry over a moderate heat for 1-2 minutes. Tip in the tomato, pepper and nut mixture and fry over a moderate heat, stirring constantly, for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chilli puree abd fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in 750ml stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to lo, then stir in the cacao, vinegar, salt and honey if using. Cover and place in the hot oven for 2 hours.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Add some of the chicken or turkey joints and fry on all sides until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm while browning the remaining chicken or turkey.
This may have to be done in 2-3 batches, depending on the size of your frying pan. When all the chicken or turkey is browned, pour a spoonful or two of the remaining stock into the empty pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, scraping up any browned residue from the bottom of the pan. Pour over the browned chicken or turkey and set aside.
When the sauce is ready, remove the casserole from the oven and tip in the browned chicken or turkey legs, adding a little remaining stock if the mole is very thick. Re-cover, place over a medium-low heat on top of the stove and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the remaining chicken or turkey joints and cook, covered for further 20-25 minutes over a gentle heat, or until the meat is cooked.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with corn tortillas or basmati rice, tomato salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo and a green salad.