Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shredded Chicken Mole Tostadas

Luke came home from school excited to tell us about an upcoming project in Social Studies.  He would be assigned a partner, and they would be assigned a country.  Once given the country, they would complete research and create an Imovie presentation.  The finale would include a feast of food made from each country around the world.  Did I just hear ethnic food served at school?  My smile widened and questions came pouring out: who would be his partner? did they get to pick their country? what country would he want? Luke rolled his eyes and asked that I be patient, as he knew none of those answers yet. Everyday he came home I would ask: do you have a country yet?  The answer was always no and eventually, he explained that it was in fact his project, not mine (ouch).  

Finally a partner was assigned and it was Julia; a family friend with a foodie mom I adore.  Perfection.  Now we just needed to get the right country.  Daily coaching over breakfast included, "don't choose USA, I'm not making their food!  How about Vietnam, we could make Banh Mi sliders?"  Luke reported that he and Julia were on board with the plan to acquire a country with good food and USA was not an option. When I heard they had selected Mexico, I was thrilled.  When Luke reminded me that they would be choosing their own menu, I was deflated.  But ye of little faith, children of foodies know how to pick good food.  
They wanted to make Chicken Mole Tostadas.  The original recipe used Mole Sauce from a jar, could I help them make some from scratch?  Of course we could!  So one Saturday afternoon, I coached while they cooked and it was a complete and utter joy. As the banana hit the hot pan, one of them said "I love the sound of hot food sizzling."  The other said, "that's one of the best sounds I've ever heard."   They chopped, diced, shredded and laughed, with me watching on. Prior to putting the chicken into the mole sauce, we dipped our spoons in for a little taste.  It was strong and they both wrinkled their nose.  I worried that the authenticity of the recipe might be too much for young palates. 
We adjusted our plans and shredded the meat separately, adding sauce to the meat only enough to dampen it without overwhelming.  It resembled a pulled pork in consistency, which made for a win with their classmates.  Parents were invited to join the class on the day of presentations.  The food was unbelievable. Butter Chicken, Egg Drop Soup, Green Tea Ice Cream, Crepes and Gelato.. the list goes on.  It was amazing to see all these children trying new foods and more importantly, loving them!  Even more impressive was the pride the kids exuded in the food they had created.  Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution would have been pleased.  We thanked Luke's teacher for creating this opportunity and left with full bellies from a morning feast. It was a good reminder to trust my child's ability and let him make his own decisions without my coaching.  It was also a good reminder that we should create more opportunities for him to cook food for all of us, because it tasted very, very good.

Shredded Chicken Mole Tostadas

adapted from Saveur

1 oz dried mixed chiles (I used ancho, arbol and pasilla)
3–4-lb chicken (I used 6 chicken breasts)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ small plum tomato, cored
¼ small white onion, peeled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp whole allspice berries
¼ tsp whole black peppercorns
¼ tsp. anise seeds
½ stick cinnamon, preferably canela 
¼  banana, peeled and finely chopped
½ small corn tortilla, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp whole almonds
1 ½ Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp raisins
1 slice white sandwich bread crumbled (use gf bread if needed)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 Tbsp. finely chopped piloncillo or packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt

To serve: tortilla chips or shells, guacamole, shredded cabbage, sour cream, hot sauce, salsa, cheese.

Preheat oven to 375degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack over top.  Place chicken on rack and bake until just cooked through, about 20min.  Reserve chicken.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add dried chiles, and cook, turning once, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer all chiles to a large bowl; pour over 5 cups boiling water and let sit until chiles are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid, and remove stems and seeds from chiles, discarding seeds  Transfer chiles to a blender or food processor; add 1 cup soaking liquid, and process until smooth. Set chile purée and remaining soaking liquid aside. 

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add  cloves, allspice, peppercorns, anise seeds, and canela, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add banana and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add tortilla, and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add almonds and sesame seeds, and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add reserved chile purée and vegetable purée, along with raisins and bread, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until all ingredients are softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and transfer mole to blender along with remaining soaking liquid; purée until very smooth, at least 4 minutes.

Return saucepan to medium-high heat with mole sauce. Add chocolate, piloncillo, and salt, and cook until chocolate and sugar dissolve and sauce is smooth, about 5 minutes. Arrange chicken in pot and cover with the sauce and reduce heat to low.  Simmer untouched for about 10-15min.  Remove from heat and pull chicken from sauce to a large plate.  Using two forks, shred the chicken into bit size pieces.  Place shredded chicken in a large bowl and add mole sauce one cup at a time, until desired saucy level is achieved.  If you love the mole sauce, feel free to use all of it when shredding your own meat. 

Serve on top of nacho chips, taco or tostada shells.  Top with guacamole, queso fresco cheese, shredded red cabbage, hot sauce, sour cream, salsa etc.  Enjoy!

1 comment: