Here’s a family favorite for Cinco de Mayo

As my husband, Fred, was watching “Iron Chef” the other night,  the secret ingredient — chocolate — prompted the question, “who eats chocolate in main dishes?”

“You,” I said. “Many times.”

He was surprised.

It was then that I decided to share on Cinco de Mayo a family favorite from a cookbook given to me a long time ago.

In parenthesis are changes I made to fit our family.

Chicken Mole

Excerpted from “The Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook,” © 1990 by Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman.

Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co. Inc., New York. All Rights Reserved.

Delectable bits of savory roast chicken give rise to some of the most tantalizing and tender well-filled tortillas. Here, we offer one of Mexico’s traditional chicken dishes, chicken mole, turned taco.

To save cooking time, we suggest roasting the chicken in pieces of quarters. The most flavorful tacos have a combination of dark and white meat; the most classic rendition uses corn tortillas.

Serves 4–6. Takes 40–60 minutes.

4–5 pounds chicken pieces, a combination of breasts, thighs and legs

(Julie and I use boneless chicken breasts and thighs, about 3 pounds)

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in pur&233;e or canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped and juices reserved

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano (Due to Fred, we use 1/3 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups water

18 corn or 12 flour tortillas, warmed or crisped just before serving (we lightly oil a pancake grill and cook corn tortillas. Spray pan with a little bit of Pam and cook to lightly crisp).

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place chicken pieces in large nonreactive baking dish. Place chili strips and garlic around chicken. Spread tomatoes and chocolate pieces over top of chicken. Add oregano, salt, and water.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and stir the chocolate into the sauce. Bake, turning one more time, until the meat is cooked through and pulls away from the bones, about 35 minutes more. Remove chicken from oven and transfer to platter to cool.

Separate the chicken meat; discard the skin and bones. Return meat to baking pan and mix into sauce.

To assemble, spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken and sauce into the middle of a tortilla. Top with Avocado-Pumpkin Seed Salsa and dribble on some cream (I use low-fat sour cream) Fold and serve.

Tip: Chicken mole filling may be prepared up to a day in advance and reheated over low heat just before serving.

Toppings: 1 cup heavy whipping cream (We use low-fat sour cream) and Avocado Pumpkin Seed Salsa

Avocado Pumpkin Seed Salsa

Makes 2 cups.

Any dish with avocado in it makes people think “guacamole,” and head for the bowl, chips in hand, like prospectors locating the treasure of the Sierra Madre.

We once made tubs of Avocado-Pumpkin Seed Salsa for a wedding and barely salvaged enough to dress the white fish tacos. If hungry hordes insist on treating this salsa as a dip, defend yourself by making plenty for dipping and your entr&233;e.

2 ripe avocados

2/3 cup cilantro leaves

1 serrano chili pepper, stemmed

1 1/3 cups fresh parsley leaves, preferably ltalian flat leaf

3 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut avocados in half: remove pits. Peel avocado halves, chop, pulp into small chunks. Place in a bowl.

In a food processor or using a chef’s knife, coarsely chop the cilantro, chili pepper, and parsley; add to the avocado with pumpkin seeds, lemon juice, and salt. Gently toss with fork; avoid mashing avocado. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you want to prepare this salsa several hours or even the night before serving, the trick is to tuck the avocado pits into the salsa. It works like magic to keep avocado green and fresh!

(We tuck Romaine lettuce inside also.)


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