This is my recipe for a rich and aromatic special-occasion chicken dish. I like to serve it with white rice. The sauce also complements shrimp, fish, and pork.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
5 cups chicken stock, approximately
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted*
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
4 one-by-three-inch slices orange peel, pith removed
6 medium tomatillos, shucked, rinsed, and quartered
¾ cup green pepitas**
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 large poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 large jalapeño, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
½ cup cilantro leaves, plus 6 sprigs, divided
1½ cups chicken stock
1. Place chicken in a 4-quart pot and add stock to cover it by ½ inch. Add cumin, sage, and orange peel and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving the sage and orange peel in the stock. Tent chicken loosely with foil.
2. Add the tomatillos to the stock and simmer for 5 minutes; drain and set tomatillos aside. Discard stock.
3. In a nonstick pan over medium heat,
toast the pepitas in oil until golden
brown, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and toss with salt. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the pepitas for a garnish. Sauté the sliced shallots in the remaining oil for 3 minutes.
5. Place the tomatillos, shallots with oil, 10 tablespoons of pepitas, peppers, cumin, Mexican oregano, ½ cup cilantro, and chicken stock in a blender. Begin blending at a medium speed and then kick it up higher until you have a smooth but still thick puree. Keep warm in a sauté pan until ready to use.
6. Warm the chicken breasts in the mole before serving. Sprinkle the reserved pumpkin seeds over the chicken and top with cilantro sprigs.
* To toast cumin seeds, heat in a small, dry sauté pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cool, then grind.
** Pepitas have no shell and come only from select pumpkin varieties. Find them in the bulk section of your grocery store.
Read more: This recipe originally appeared in "Autumn Brings Delicious Pumpkin Dishes" by Chef Johnny Vee.