Dia de los Muertos: Chicken Mole Poblano

Hola Piratas!  Welcome to Galley Pirates’ Dia de los Muertos celebration!  Dia de los Muertos — celebrated November first and second in Mexico and other countries or cities with a heavy Latin cultural tradition…in other words, cruising locales — is actually your Galley Pirates’ preferred holiday this time of year.  The tradition honors those who have passed — not in sombre memorials, but by literally including them in daily life and celebration for a couple of days, which may even mean preparing their favorite foods.  And let’s face it … mole beats candy corn hands down.  Pirate Kristin moved from the northeastern United States to southern California as a young teenager and was THRILLED to discover Dia de los Muertos as a very active local alternative to Halloween.  Stuck costumed as a clown most of her youth — and not wearing orange particularly well — the dazzlingly bright, bejeweled colors of the Latin holiday were a revelation.  And believe me, you will appreciate those colors in the background of this first post…mole is distinctly delicious, but not terribly photogenic.

Tune in over following weeks for the rest of the menu — hints at the bottom of this post.  Spoiler: we use an entire cactus.

I read somewhere that making a traditional mole is a two day process. I get that. We Galley Pirates managed to work it into one intensely long day. You can too.

You will need two large stew pots to make this.

Mole Poblano

For a print friendly recipe see below

1/2 lb mulato chilies
3/4 lb pasilla chilies
3/4 lb ancho chilies
1/2 lb lard
3 medium-sized cloves of garlic
2 medium-sized onions
2 hard tortillas broken into pieces
½ dried bolillo (like a French bread roll)
1/2 cup raisins 125 g (1/4 lb.)
3/4 cup almonds
6 tablespoons of pepitas de calabaza (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of anise
2 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of black pepper
3 tablets of Mexican chocolate (or to taste)
150 g (1/3 lb.) tomatoes (peeled and diced), or two cans of diced tomatoes
Salt and sugar to taste
Additional chicken broth or water for thinning sauce
2 medium chickens cut into pieces and cooked in a soup.

When Pirate Kristin came back from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico and told Pirate Caroline “we’re going to make a galley-mole for Dia de los Muertas!” … well, there was an accusation of “¡Estas loco!”  Sure, huge, pendulous bunches of beautiful dried chilies hang on every lamppost in Santa Fe, but where are we going to conjure the many exotic ingredients for mole in Annapolis, Maryland?  Enter Savemart Latin grocery — honestly, I bet you can find a Latin market in most major or even medium cities these days.  Or maybe you are lucky enough to be sailing the Yucatán…if so, let us know!  (Especially if you need galley crew!)


We’ll start by cooking the chicken. It can basically be boiled up in any broth that uses a variety of onions, garlic, celery, carrots, salt, pepper corns, bay leaves…any stock spice or vegetable you want to throw into the pot.

Throw some stock vegetables into a large pot, place chicken pieces on top and fill with water.

Place on a medium burner and bring to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. Drain and set aside, keeping warm. While the chicken cooks, start prepping your dried chilies. Turn your oven on warm (about 250º – 300º). Place your two tortillas on foil in the oven to dry out. Bake until hard, about 5-8 minutes.

Preferably wearing gloves (these dried chilies can both burn and stain your hands) and a good pair of scissors cut the stems off the chilies. Slice lengthwise down the chilies and remove the seeds from the inside.

Heat 1/3 cup of lard in a large skillet. Working quickly, in batches, and using tongs, fry each chili for only a matter of seconds, turning constantly, until just soft. They can burn quickly and you don’t want that.

Remove to another pan and cover with hot (or warm) water. Sink them well into the water with a plate or cover.

Roughly chop the chocolate and tortillas. Dry fry the sesame seeds until just turning golden. Watch carefully and keep shaking the pan, as they can burn quickly too.

In the same lard, sauté the garlic and onion until golden brown. Add the tortillas, bread, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and half the sesame seeds, the anise, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, chocolate, and tomatoes and sauté them well.

Drain the chilies, reserving their soaking liquid, and add to the mixture along with the tomatoes.This will be very thick. Add some of the chili broth to loosen, stir together well, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

And here’s where it’s best if you’re at a dock with shore power. Although this could be blended with a hand cranked food processor, it would have to be done in small batches and might take a long long long time to do. We brought on board with us today the Ninja food processor (thanks to the increasing popularity of Smoothies!)  which blended this concoction into a smooth purée in a matter of a few minutes. It still needed to be done in two batches.

Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of lard in the largest of your two pans (or the lard can be added after you’ve puréed the mole.) With a metal strainer over this pan, pour the Mole mixture and strain by pressing and stirring through the metal strainer.

This will be very thick so add a cup or two of the chili soaking broth. You can add additional chicken broth or water if necessary. Cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper (and sugar if need be, depending on how sweet your chocolate was…this should be a little on the sweet side) to taste. Let come to a low boil for another 15 minutes.

Add your chicken pieces and let cook on low for another 10 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.

And so begins Galley Pirates’ Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead celebration. Along with this traditional Chicken Mole Poblano, we served Cactus Paddle (Nopale) Salad, Cornsicles, and…of course, Margaritas. Prickly Pear Margaritas, that is! Check in with Galley Pirates the next few Fridays to experience these traditional Mexican/Southwest Native American delights.




One thought on “Dia de los Muertos: Chicken Mole Poblano

  1. that must be one of the more involved recipes that Galley Pirates has come up with. Sounds so good, and appropriate for Day of the Dead, I was going to say celebration but that doesn’t seem appropriate!

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