Chilli and chocolate – a heaven sent pairing with a gorgeous Mexican turkey mole…

Mexican food always has been and always will be something I love to eat. Seriously, I’m like a dog who doesn’t realise he’s had too much to eat and just…keeps…going.

Self control? Meh. Portion control? Pshhh.

I just completely adore it. I love the spices, the flavours, the fact that so much of it can be eaten al fresco and casually with your hands and the idea of topping everything with guacamole, re-fried beans, sour cream and cheese just speaks to my very soul. Shocking I know.

Mole poblano is a traditional Mexican dish which offers a decadently dark, chocolate chilli flavoured sauce over turkey and it’s exact origins are often debated through two legends…

…the first says that nuns from Puebla de los Angeles were panicked when they learnt that a visiting Archbishop would be coming to their convent. Their desperate prayers for help were answered by an angel who inspired them to combine chillies, spices and chocolate among other ingredients and to boil and reduce the result down until it became the thick, dark, rich product that we recognise now. Serving it with turkey, the only meat available to them, you’ll be happy to hear that the Archbishop loved it and the nuns were much praised for it.

The second legend says that the Aztec King Moctezuma served mole at a banquet to honour the conquistadors that he thought of as gods but whatever its origins, I think we should just send a general ‘gracias’ out there into the ether and honour both the nuns and the king by enjoying this dish not just on special occasions as in Mexican tradition, but whenever we can.

Truly authentic mole poblano has a list of ingredients a mile long so I’m not even going to pretend for one insulting minute that this version of it was slaved over. In actual fact, it was made with ingredients easily found in your local supermarket but don’t let that put you off because honestly, it’s really a delicious and different way of enjoying Mexican cuisine.

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Ancho chillies are the dried version of Poblano peppers and they have a smokey, earthy flavour rather than just being eye-wateringly, tongue-blisteringly hot. These were bought in M&S and soaked in water for 20 minutes to make them easier to chop. Truth be told, I bought them to keep in the cupboard and throw into some dish at some point but because there was a recipe on the cardboard insert with the chillies, this is what J and I devoured for dinner.

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Ridiculously simple, this is a case of sauteeing the onion and garlic, adding the cumin (and ground coriander if you choose) followed by basically everything else. Got that? Onion, garlic, cumin…everything else. Simmer, stir, feel like a superstar chef.

I used fresh coriander at the end here rather than dried in with the cumin and I added an extra squeeze of honey and an extra 10g of chocolate simply because I find cumin quite a powerful flavour that can sometimes threaten to overtake the whole dish. I also added diced turkey breast for a lean, filling option and I popped that in after the onion, garlic and cumin and before the tomatoes.

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Served with a side of kale lightly sauteed in olive oil and garlic and with a sprinkling of fresh coriander, this was absolutely gorgeous – warm and fragrant with the deep flavour of the chillies coming through, balancing well alongside the sweetness of the honey and cocoa richness of the chocolate. It was moreish but clever – going back for seconds didn’t leave us feeling as full and unable to move as chilli with rice sometimes can. Next time I’ll probably add some tortilla strips to soak up all those lovely flavours but really, as this was, it was muy maravilloso.

No hours of hard labour. No need for fancy pans. No requirement for expensive ingredients. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy the food of Mexico, congratulations. You just found it.

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