Cooked pasta was tossed with leftover mole sauce (from Alex’s birthday dinner with her friends last weekend), and topped with crispy chicken fried steak. That, in essence, is what this chicken pasta mole is.
Mole (no, the “e” is not silent) is a Mexican chili-based sauce. Ground chilies are cooked and thickeners—anything from herbs to bread to fruits to chocolate—are added to make the sauce pasty. There are so many variations of mole; all have chilies as the base of sauce.
Now, this is not traditional mole by any stretch of the imagination. No fresh nor dried chilies were pureed; instead, chili powder was used. But it is delicious—subtly sweet, subtly hot, rich and thick (good job, Alex!).
But… BUT… Chocolate in a savory dish? Chocolate and chili? Oh yes, chocolate in savory dishes is not only a Mexican thing—it is an Italian thing too! And yes, yes and yes—dark chocolate and chili make a lovely pair. Emphasis on dark chocolate though.
Chicken Pasta Mole
For the mole:
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 onion
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 150 grams dark chocolate grated or chopped
To complete the dish:
- enough pasta for 3 persons
- 3 chicken thigh fillets
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup crushed unsweetened cornflakes
- grated Parmesan
- cooking oil for deep frying
- snipped parsley to garnish
Make the mole. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin and garlic with enough water to make a thin paste.
Finely chop the onion.
Heat the butter and oil in a sauce pan. Over medium heat, cook the chopped onion for about half a minute.
Stir in the garlic paste, paprika, chili powder and oregano. Cook, stirring often, for about a minute.
Set the heat to low. Add the chocolate to the sauce pan. Cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted.
Taste the sauce; add salt and pepper to get a good balance of flavors. If the sauce looks too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Turn off the heat; keep the sauce warm.
Cook the pasta in generously salted water (2 to 3 tablespoons salt per gallon of water is a goos starting point).
While the pasta cooks, prepare the chicken. Wipe the chicken fillets dry with paper towels. Arrange in a row between two sheets of cling wrap.
Using a kitchen mallet, pound the chicken to about a quarter of an inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper liberally.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl, the egg in another shallow bowl and the corn flakes in a third shallow bowl.
Dredge both sides of each chicken fillet in flour. Make sure to coat completely then shake off the excess.
Dip each floured chicken fillet in egg.
Coat the chicken fillet with the crushed corn flakes.
Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of two inches.
Fry the chicken fillets until crisp and golden, about six to eight minutes over medium heat.
Drain the pasta. While hot, toss with just enough mole to coat the noodles.
Divide the pasta among three bowls.
Cut the fried chicken fillets into strips. Arrange on top of the pasta.
Sprinkle the chicken pasta mole with Parmesan and snipped parsley before serving.
You can keep the excess mole in the fridge in a tightly covered jar. Reheat gently to use.