Chicken Mole Verde Tacos

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

Adapted from Epicurious and Saveur

Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 6 


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

Homemade Corn Tortillas

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.

If you love this recipe, you will love my recipes for Chipotle-Spiced Bean TacosHealth(ier) Chicken Enchiladas, and Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs!  



Grilled Red Snapper and Clams in a Lovestuff Tomatillo Broth

I have a confession to make: I'm absolutely enamored with a hot sauce called Lovestuff. 

I first realized I was over the moon about the sauce when I developed a fierce determination to make recipes that incorporated its flavors to take my dishes to another level of goodness.

My borderline obsession with Lovestuff can be solely attributed to Ground Up Flavor's founder, Maurice Tyms, who sent me a couple bottles to try out last year for free to see if I liked it, and to encourage me to get creative with its flavors.

I knew before tasting Lovestuff that I would enjoy the spicy green nectar from its sexy name and label alone. Not surprisingly, I used up almost the entire bottle on my typical breakfast of eggs with English muffins in less than a week upon opening. With one bottle left for serious food business, I knew I needed to get busy in the kitchen with a recipe so I could continue my new breakfast hot sauce ritual.

Unfortunately, my schedule didn't permit a lot of time for recipe development. Knowing that this tempting, unopened bottle of hot sauce was sitting behind my kitchen cupboard for several months was difficult to say the least. But my natural patient attitude allowed me to survive this feat until I had time to develop a high quality recipe that may even get featured in one of Maurice's cookbook projects. Nice!

Now that it's Spring and I have a little more time in my schedule, I wanted to make something that is healthy, bright, and that would pair well with the flavors of Lovestuff. What could be healthier and brighter than snapper with clams in a tomatillo broth? Not much, in my opinion.

To take this Mexican-influenced seafood recipe to an even higher level, I added a frisee salad on top with a little bit of Lovestuff incorporated. It's so all so wonderfully edible and perfect for a fancy weekend dinner. The grilled red snapper is such a treat, and the clams in a mildly spicy broth of Lovestuff? Mmm, mmm, it's so complete!

Grilled Red Snapper and Clams in a Lovestuff Tomatillo Broth

Active Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 2 Hours 

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
6 whole garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, roughly chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 lb tomatillos (about 8 medium) husked, rinsed and halved
1 ½ cups dry white wine, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
½ cup heavy ream
2 tsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp Lovestuff Five Pepper Sauce
Juice of 1 lime
4 rainbow carrots, peeled, cut into ¼”-thick rounds
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 red jalapeno, seeded, sliced thin
1 tbsp butter
2 lbs clams, rinsed and scrubbed

Frisee Salad
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lime
Zest of 1 lime
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp Lovestuff Five Pepper Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups frisee, trimmed
½ cup jicama, peeled, julienned
4 tomatillos, halved, thinly sliced
1 medium vine ripe tomato, cut into thin strips
¼ bunch cilantro leaves
1 red jalapeno, seeded, julienned

Red Snapper
4 (6 oz) red snapper fillets, pin bones removed, patted dry
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Finish
Cilantro leaves

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, jalapeno, and tomatillos over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring for 6-8 minutes, until softened.

Add 1 cup white wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is nearly evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Add chicken stock, heavy cream, sugar, Lovestuff, lime juice, half the carrots, chipotle pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer. Cook until reduced by 1/3, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and add the sauce to a blender with cilantro. Puree until smooth. Let sit for one hour to allow the flavors to meld. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.

Meanwhile, add olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, Lovestuff, and sugar to a large bowl. Whisk to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add frisee, jicama, tomatillos, tomato, cilantro, and jalapeno. Toss vegetables and dressing to combine. 

Lightly coat snapper fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook snapper skin-side down in a hot grill pan or in large heavy bottomed skillet for 2 minutes. Then cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Return tomatillo sauce with ½ cup white wine to the same skillet with remaining carrots, red jalapeno, and butter and heat over medium heat. Add clams and cover until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open.  

Serve sauce on plates and top with clams. Plate snapper over clams and sauce, and garnish with the salad and cilantro leaves. Enjoy!