Are you familiar with Mexican mole sauces? Well, this is not it. It goes in that direction, but it is much, much simpler. Moles are notoriously complex to make, requiring hours of simmering and a long list of ingredients. This sauce is very simple by comparison. I was inspired by a few recipes from Pati Jinich of PBS fame, and cooked it under pressure. You can use an Instant Pot or simply braise it for a longer time.

(inspired by Pati Jinich)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup pecans
4 prunes
2 pasilla dried chilis, stemmed and seeds removed
1 medium shallot, peeled, cut in half
1 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the sauce. Add the dried pasillas to a super hot skillet and dry cook them on both sides until they get soft and fragrant. Reserve. Broil the shallot or dry roast it in the pan together with the pepper.

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan, add the pasillas, broiled shallots, pecans, and prunes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the contents of the pan to a high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), and process until full smooth.

Heat the oil in your pressure cooker or instant pot, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and brown them on both sides, four pieces at a time. Remove to a bowl as they are done. When they are all browned, remove the excess oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind. Add the chicken back to the pressure cooker, pour 1 cup strained tomatoes and 1 cup of the pasilla sauce. Close the pan, bring to full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Release the pressure (quickly is ok), and if needed, simmer down the sauce. Adjust seasoning, and serve with your side dishes of choice, or shred the meat and wrap in tortillas.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We both loved this take on chicken thighs. You can serve this with rice and beans, you can serve it with tortillas and some salsa, but I opted for a simple sweet potato puree and broccoli. The sauce is super flavorful, so it will go well with pretty much any side dish you want: couscous, rice pilaf, even pasta or polenta. Don’t worry, call it fusion cuisine. The pasilla-pecan sauce will make more than you need for this recipe, so you can freeze it for later.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, just brown the meat, add the sauce, cover tightly and simmer gently until cooked through, probably 50 minutes or so, depending on how tender you like it. I have not tried it with chicken thighs on the bone and with the skin on, but if you brown the skin well, I don’t see any problems. It will have a lot more fat in the end, though.

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