Love chocolate? Have it for dinner with these savory recipes

Attention chocolate lovers: Why settle for snacks or desserts when you can sneak your favorite food in as part of the main meal? Chocolate is a traditional component of many moles, the incredibly rich, velvety -- and often dark as tar -- sauces of Mexico, particularly Oaxaca and Puebla. You can get mole from many Mexican shops around town, or you can try making your own. Here are some great dinner ideas from our recipe database:

Turkey in black mole: Chef Omar Lezcas from San Pedro Pochutla, Oaxaca, shares this recipe for mole, one he makes in a well-worn big metal pot. The sauce is both complex yet subtle with flavors, the many ingredients -- including toasted chiles, chocolate, bread, plantains, tomatoes, nuts, raisins and spices -- are slowly combined to form a rich, dark glossy sauce. The recipe makes more mole than is needed for the turkey dish; freeze the mole until needed, using the rich sauce to flavor a variety of dishes.


Pipian: From food writer Barbara Hansen, "Pipian is closer to a Mexican mole poblano because it contains chocolate, cinnamon, sesame seeds and dried chiles. But the classic mole poblano doesn't include achiote paste, toasted squash seeds and sweet vermouth. Perfect with chicken, the sauce is delicately sweet from the wine."

Cheese enchiladas Acapulco: A favorite recipe with readers of our Culinary SOS column, the recipe for enchiladas -- and their sauce, flavored with the subtle hint of Mexican chocolate -- came from restaurant La Villa Taxco in Hollywood.

Jerez-style wedding asado: Appropriate for a wedding party, or just a large celebration, this generously sized recipe comes from OC Weekly editor and food writer Gustavo Arellano, who writes that the "austere mole (is) as sweet as molasses due to Mexican chocolate, brown sugar and buckets of lard, but with a creeping heat that leaves lips slightly scorched. It's a wedding staple, and since I'm zacatecano, I can eat this dish weekly easily just by hanging with my extended family of thousands -- uncles, aunts and too many third cousins to count." Serve the dish over Mexican rice, with extra bolillos (Mexican rolls) for sopping up the sauce.

Mole poblano: La Casita's chef-owners Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu researched this dish in Puebla, Mexico, then tweaked the ingredients, adding ground cacao beans and Mexican chocolate tablets to boost the chocolate notes in this recipe, making for a dense, rich mole.

Mole Coloradito: Writes Barbara Hansen, "One of the specialties of Maria Lopez of the Guelaguetza restaurants in Koreatown is coloradito, a sweet, lightly colored Oaxacan mole. Her recipe offers an efficient sequence for roasting tomatoes, chiles, seeds, spices and other ingredients in a skillet, then pureeing, simmering and adding chocolate and thickener." You can find the recipe below.


Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes | Serves 6

Note: From Maria Lopez of the Guelaguetza restaurants in Koreatown. In Oaxaca, this mild, sweet mole is served with chicken or fried pork. Some brands of Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra, are widely available; a tablet is 3.1 ounces.

    1 large chicken, cut into pieces
    1/2 small onion, peeled
    2 cloves garlic
    1 small onion, peel on
    2 1/4 pounds (about 7) plum tomatoes
    1 small clove garlic
    2/3 cup almonds
    2/3 cup raisins
    3/4 cup sesame seeds
    5 black peppercorns
    5 whole cloves
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 stick cinnamon
    6 ancho chiles
    12 guajillo chiles
    3 tablespoons oil
    2 tablets Mexican chocolate, chopped

1. Wash the chicken pieces and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover and add the peeled half onion, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth and reserve.

2. In the meantime, wrap the unpeeled onion in foil and roast it in a 400-degree oven until soft, about 50 minutes. Unwrap and peel the onion and set it aside.

3. Roast the whole tomatoes in a large dry skillet until softened, about 10 minutes. Place the tomatoes in a bowl. Roast the garlic quickly in the same skillet for about 1 to 2 minutes and add to the tomatoes.

4. Wipe out the skillet and roast, separately, the almonds, raisins and sesame seeds; add to the tomatoes. Next, roast together the peppercorns, cloves, oregano and cinnamon until fragrant and add to the tomatoes.

5. Remove the stems, veins and seeds from the chiles. Roast the chiles in the same dry skillet until fragrant and softened but not dark, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Working in batches, spoon the tomato mixture from the bowl into the jar of a blender with the roasted onion and the chiles. Blend together with some of the reserved chicken stock until smooth and fluid. Strain.

7. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the blended mixture and the chopped chocolate and stir until dissolved, about 10 minutes. The texture should be fluid. Add bread crumbs to thicken if the sauce is too thin. If it's too thick, add more broth. Stir in the sugar and salt to taste and cook another 10 minutes. The flavor should be distinctly sweet.

8. To serve, place a portion of chicken on a plate and pour the mole sauce over.

Each serving with one-half cup sauce: 699 calories; 46 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 37 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 147 mg. cholesterol; 128 mg. Sodium

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