Green mole, a.k.a salsa verde, is a quick and easy mole that is light, yet flavorful. Similar to other moles, such as roja and negro, mole verde has a diverse amount of ingredients ranging from several dried spices and aromatics, to tomatillos, epazote, and fresh chilies.
Depending on the traditional recipe, the list of ingredients varies. One of those varying ingredients is one that I am very excited to share with you today: hoja santa!
Hoja santa is a Mexican herb that looks like a large leafy green with a taste similar to root beer. Funky, but it’s able to add amazing and certainly unique flavor to anything.
I found out about hoja santa watching the Travel Channel years ago. It was featured in a Brazilian stew and sounded super exotic. I saved several recipes that utilized the herb, but never got around to trying one because I couldn't find hoja santa in any Mexican or South American markets in the Bay Area.
Funny enough, I remember reading message boards at Chowhound about this problem and found out that hoja santa grows on the side of the Interstate 280 between San Francisco and San Jose.
You can trust me that the freeway is not where I grabbed these greens! Looking for seeds on Amazon, I instead found a live plant. So I ordered it, planted it, and it is now thriving in my own garden!
I am proud to say that I can make mole verde with hoja santa, epazote, chiles, tomatillos, and corn (turned into masa) from my garden!
If you live in California or the Southwest, why not grow your own Mexican and South American ingredients that you can't find in store??
So what are you waiting for? Get this stuff growing in your garden if you can (otherwise use the dried leaves), and check out the recipe below for Chicken Mole Verde with Homemade Corn Tortillas. It's scrumptious and will cure any craving for authentic Mexican or South American food!
P.S. These corn tortillas were made with corn that was grown in my own garden :)
Chicken Mole Verde Tacos
Time: 45 Minutes
1 (3–4-lb.) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro stems
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
8 whole cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 jalapeño chiles, tops removed
6 large tomatillos, husks removed
1 small onion, cut into chunks
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves
1 cup (8 ounces) masa, either fresh or reconstituted by mixing 6 tablespoons masa harina to a smooth paste with 1 cup of water
1 medium bunch Italian parsley
8 (6-inch) sprigs fresh epazote or 1/4 cup dried, crumbled
3 large or 5 medium-size fresh hoja santa leaves or 6 dried leaves
2 cups cooked Great Northern or other white beans
1/2 handful cilantro, roughly chopped, to garnish
1 red jalapeno, finely sliced, to garnish
Mexican crema, to garnish
Place chicken, cilantro, salt, peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and 12 cups water in a 6-qt. saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from saucepan and strain liquid through a fine strainer; reserve 6 cups and save remaining liquid for another use. Set chicken and liquid aside.
Meanwhile, grind the cloves and cumin together in an electric coffee or spice grinder, or with a mortar and pestle. Place the ground spices in a blender with the jalapenos, tomatillos, onion, thyme, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the strained stock. Process until smoothly puréed, about 2 minutes on high.
Return the remaining strained stock to the pan; bring back to a boil, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Add the puréed mixture to the hot stock and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes.
Thin the masa by mixing with 1 cup water. Whisk the thinned masa into the stock mixture; whisking constantly, let the sauce return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. If lumps form, pass the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve (pushing with a spoon to force through the lumpy bits) and return to the heat. The mixture should thicken to the consistency of whipping cream; if necessary, increase the heat slightly to reduce and thicken it.
Place the parsley, epazote, and hoja santa in a blender or food processor. If using a blender, add a few tablespoons water to facilitate blending. Process to a smooth purée. Add the cooked beans to the masa-thickened sauce and let return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pot along with the puréed herbs. Taste and add more salt if desired. Cook until just heated through, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve pieces of chicken over tortillas and drizzle over mole. Garnish with cilantro, red jalapeños, and Mexican crema.