Unlike most of my recipes, there’s nothing quick about this one. But don’t let that deter you, because once you taste the result, you won’t think twice. Plus there’s plenty of sauce to freeze for a second meal!
And I swear the frozen sauce tasted even better than the original, thanks to a little time for all those flavors to meld. Prefer vegetarian? Simply substitute canned jackfruit.*
All told, this took approximately 2-1/2 hours from start to finish. Leftover sauce with pan-seared chicken the next week? All of 30 minutes. 🙂
3 medium-size fennel bulbs: one cut in half, the other 2 roughly chopped
8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
8 bone-in chicken thighs, or 2 cans canned green jackfruit*
4 large carrots, halved crosswise
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, leaves picked, stems reserved, divided
1 medium-size fresh poblano pepper
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons anise seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, green tops only, diced
1 pound tomatillos, shucked and chopped
1 cup clarified butter / ghee, melted, divided
2-1/2 cups radish greens (I’d never used them before, it was great!)
2 cups fresh spinach
10 flat-leaf parsley stems
3 epazote stems**
1-1/2 cups pepitas, toasted
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
1/2 cup white sesame seeds, toasted, plus more for garnish
2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
Lime wedges for garnish
Rice and/or corn tortillas for serving
Cook Chicken / Make Stock:
- Cut 1 fennel bulb in half. Place fennel halves, stock, chicken thighs, carrots, and 5 cilantro stems in a large stock pot; press down on chicken to fully submerge. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Remove from heat; cover and let stand until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken registers 150°F, about 20 minutes.
- VEGETARIAN OPTION: follow the first bullet, without the chicken.
- Meanwhile, cook poblano chile in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high, turning occasionally, until all sides are blackened, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer charred poblano to a medium bowl; cover the bowl with a plate (or plastic wrap), and let stand 15 minutes.
- Carefully peel cooled poblano under running water; discard skin, stem, and seeds. Set poblano flesh aside.
Prepare Spice Mixture:
- Cook cumin, coriander, anise seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a medium skillet over medium-low, stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Transfer spices to a molcajete / mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder; process until finely ground. Set spice mixture aside.
VEGETARIAN: Prepare Tofu/Seitan
For those preparing this as a vegetarian meal, cut jackfruit into bite-sized pieces and sauté to warm the vegetable.
Reserve Chicken and Cooking Liquid:
- Remove and discard vegetables and cilantro stems from the stock pot.
- Using tongs, transfer chicken (or seared tofu/seitan) to a large heatproof bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the meat or jackfruit; cover tightly with saran wrap and set aside.
- Transfer remaining cooking liquid to an 8-cup measuring cup or a large bowl; set aside.
Prepare Fennel Tomatillo Mixture:
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped fennel, tomatillos, and scallions; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 12 to 14 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid to fennel mixture, and use a stick blender to process mixture until smooth.
- Transfer fennel/tomatillo mixture to a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in 1/2 cup ghee.
Place radish greens, spinach, parsley stems, epazote stems*, poblano flesh, 2-1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid, and remaining cilantro stems in blender. Process until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add to fennel / tomatillo mixture in the Dutch oven.
Prepare Nut Paste:
Place pepitas, almonds, sesame seeds, and remaining reserved cooking liquid into the blender and process until mixture forms a loose, coarse paste, 25 to 35 seconds.
Cook the Molé:
- Add nut paste, reserved spice mixture, and salt to the other ingredients in the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens and reduces slightly, about 1 hour.
- Stir in remaining 1/2 cup of ghee; cook over medium-low, stirring often, until a thin layer of fat forms on top, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, debone the chicken and shred the meat into its reserved juices. VEGETARIAN OPTION: nothing to do here. 🙂
- Add chicken mixture or jackfruit with any accumulated juices to the molé; cook, stirring often, until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste.
Serve with white rice (or corn tortillas if you want to live dangerously), garnished with additional toasted sesame seeds, reserved cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and a drizzle of fermented yogurt, if you like.
Ripe jackfruit is NOT SIBO-friendly due to the high sugar content (even worse if it’s canned in syrup). However canned green jackfruit is tolerated by most SIBO people, and it provides an tasty “meaty vegetable” substitution.
Epazote is similar to a combined flavor or oregano, anise, fennel and tarragon, but stronger. If you cant find any, substitute with 1 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp dried tarragon.