I love the opportunity to make a true Mexican mole from scratch, toasting and roasting some two dozen ingredients and making a day of the preparation. Since I manage that only once every couple of years, I figure we all can use a shortcut for a celebration menu. For this dish, I use a New Mexican mole mix from North of the Border, based in Tesuque. The company’s mole mix has a good proportion of New Mexican red chile in it, in addition to the anchos and pasillas more common south of the border. You can order it by mail from them (800-860-0681; northoftheborder.net), pick it up at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (505-983-4511; santafeschoolofcooking.com), or find it at many grocery stores and specialty food stores in-state and nationally. You can substitute another mole, from a jar, made from paste, or even homemade, if you wish. The rich sauce gets spooned over petite skewers of chicken, which is grilled or oven-baked. Both the sauce and the skewered, uncooked chicken can be prepared a day ahead.


  • Minced zest and juice of 2 large oranges
  • Minced zest and juice of 2 large limes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce, such as Cholula (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or a combination of breasts and thighs, cut into ¾-inch cubes (2 to 2½ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 3.5-ounce package North of the Border powdered mole mix
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 ounce sweet Mexican chocolate (with cinnamon and almond), such as Ibarra (optional)
  • Several tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant Smoked salt (optional)
  • Lime wedges

Serves 8 or more

  1. Prepare marinade, combining ingredients in a large zippered plastic bag. Add chicken cubes to marinade, seal, and toss back and forth to coat chicken. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple of hours.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare mole. Heat lard in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in mole mix and cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes. Pour in stock and, if you like, add the chocolate for a deeper, darker mole. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the consistency is like gravy.
  3. Fire up the grill to medium heat or preheat oven to 375° F.
  4. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Place 5 to 6 cubes of chicken on metal or soaked bamboo skewers. If baking chicken, place skewers on greased baking sheets.
  5. Grill chicken uncovered over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning regularly to sear on all sides. Chicken should be opaque throughout but still juicy. If baking chicken, plan on a cooking time of about 12 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.
  6. Serve chicken skewers plated, after spooning mole over them. Garnish with sesame seeds and, if you wish, a sprinkling of smoked salt. Place a lime wedge on each plate.