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Chicken Mole with Plantains, Butternut Squash, and Parsnips

By Javier Plascencia From Moveable Feast Season 4, Ep.6
John Dole

Servings: 6 to 8

The use of a prepared mole paste shortens the ingredient list and prep time for this classic Mexican dish.


  • 4 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 medium white onions, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 9 Tbs. olive oil, more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee, such as espresso, warmed
  • 8-1/2-oz. jar prepared mole paste, such as Dona Maria brand
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock, more as needed
  • 2 6-inch corn tortillas, charred on the stovetop, plus additional for serving
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, about 2-1/2 oz., toasted and torn
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2-3/4 lb.)
  • 1 large (about 1 lb. 6 oz.) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 4 medium parsnips (about 15 oz.), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 small ripe plantains
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 2 tsp. cocoa nibs, for garnish, optional
  • Nasturtium flowers and leaves, for garnish, optional


  • Position a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler on high.
  • Place the tomatillos, onions, and tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 Tbs. of the oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Broil, turning occasionally, until charred and the onions are very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the skins from the onions and tomatoes. Reserve 3 onion wedges, separate them into petals, and set aside for garnish. Plump the raisins in the coffee, about 15 minutes.
  • Combine the mole paste and 2 cups of the chicken stock in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the coffee, 1 Tbs. of the raisins, the charred tortillas, bread, tomatillos, tomatoes, and remaining onion and purée, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Transfer the mole mixture to a 7-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot frequently with a wooden spoon until the mixture reduces, thickens, and darkens, 55 to 60 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet on medium heat until it shimmers. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides of the chicken with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the skillet skin side down, working in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan, and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. When the chicken is cool to the touch, remove the skin and discard and transfer the chicken to the mole mixture. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to the skillet and still working over medium heat, scrape the bottom of pan to deglaze. Continue to cook until reduced by half. Transfer to the mole mixture.
  • Simmer the mole and chicken over low heat with the lid ajar until the chicken is cooked through and very tender, adding more chicken stock in 1/4 cup increments if necessary, 30 to 40 minutes. The mole should be thick but not a paste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, adjust the seasoning and gently stir the mixture to combine.
  • Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the butternut squash and parsnips on separate small rimmed baking sheets. Toss each with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Score the skin of the plantains lengthwise on one side, taking care not to pierce the fruit, and add to the sheet with the parsnips. Drizzle the plantains with the remaining 1 Tbs. of the oil and sprinkle with the butter cubes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Transfer both baking sheets to the oven and roast, turning halfway through the cooking time and removing items as they become tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 20 minutes for the parsnips, 25 minutes for the squash, and 30 minutes for the plantains. When the plantains are cool to the touch, remove the skins and cut the fruit on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Arrange the chicken and the sauce in the center of a large platter, with the butternut squash, parsnips, and plantains around the chicken. Garnish with the reserved raisins and onion petals, the sesame seeds, and the cocoa nibs and nasturtium flowers and leaves, if using.

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