Making mole has a reputation for being an arduous process with dozens of steps and even more ingredients. But not all moles are particularly difficult or time consuming, and they don't always have to contain one of every item in your neighborhood Mexican grocery. The Yellow Mole with Masa Dumplings from Pati's Mexican Table is one such mole. Pati Jinich's recipe only takes an hour or so, and everything except the hoja santa leaves—easily substituted with cilantro—can be found in most grocery stores. The thick brick red sauce (sadly, it is not actually yellow) is tangy and just a little spicy, a worthy accompaniment to braised chicken. Cute, dimpled masa dumplings make the mole into a full meal.
Why I picked this recipe: I am often too intimidated to make mole at home, but this seemed like a great place to start.
What worked: Kind of like Mexican chicken and dumplings, Jinich's light and bright "yellow" mole was surprisingly complex for such a "quick" braise. I'll make this one many more times.
What didn't: It took me longer than 15 minutes to thicken the sauce. I ended up removing the chicken pieces as they finished cooking and then continued to simmer the sauce for another 10 minutes or so. I also streamlined the recipe a bit by using a large saucepan to toast the chiles, simmer the chiles and tomatillos, and cook the sauce with the onion and broth. I used my Dutch oven to braise the chicken.
Suggested tweaks: You can substitute cilantro for the hoja santa. I used rendered bacon fat in the dumplings because I don't regularly keep lard or shortening in the house. The bacon added a smoky presence that I found delightful. For milder dumplings, stick with lard or shortening.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.