Pati Jinich's Mole for the Day of the Dead

October 29, 2013

This Friday, November 1, is the Day of the Dead. Today, Mexican food authority Pati Jinich is sharing a recipe for her favorite mole. Serve some up this Friday to remember your loved ones.

Yellow Mole Chicken on Food52

There are so many different Mexican mole sauces that the safest bet is not to try guessing their number at all. However, you can bet that a mole-based dish is present in most Mexican homes during the Day of the Dead celebration: a time where people build a bridge to connect with those who have departed. It is a joyous, yet bittersweet, occasion when families reminisce on what their dear ones loved the most. Especially their favorite foods.

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Traditional mole dishes are always at the top of anyone's list. ??One of my favorites is the amarillito, or “little yellow.” It is a classic, and it's very easy to make compared with how laborious some of Mexico’s other moles can be -- it can be made, as we Mexicans say, “with one hand on your hip.” It is light and bright, but despite the fact that it’s not actually yellow, the name has stuck. ??

The dish comes from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known in the culinary world for its many versions of mole. The chochoyotes, or dimpled corn masa dumplings, enrich and thicken the sauce, and the dimple in the center of each one holds the sauce like a tasty, fluffy edible spoon. For celebrating Day of the Dead, or for any occasion when there is anything to celebrate, this dish speaks of a happy gathering. 

Yellow Mole with Chicken 

Serves 6 to 8

Yellow Mole with Chicken

2 ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded
2 guajillo chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded
1 pound tomatillos (6 to 8), husks removed, rinsed
1 medium ripe tomato
4 garlic cloves
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, homemade or canned
3 medium fresh hoja santa leaves (or 5 dried, or 2 cilantro sprigs) (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 chicken breasts, thighs, or drumsticks, or a combination
Kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Masa Dumplings

1 cup instant corn masa flour, such as Maseca
3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print) it here.

Photo by Penny De Los Santos

Tell us: How do you remember your relatives at the holidays?

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I forgo my job in the Washington DC policy research world to research, test, taste, cook, write, teach and talk about Mexican food. Not only because of nostalgia and desire to connect to my roots, but because I love sharing all I learn and I am fascinated by Mexico cuisine's richness and depth.