- 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
- 4 heaping tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons mole paste
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 cup queso fresco
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1 cup sour cream
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
I first fell in love with mole sauce while living in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico. It is an unxious, delicious and addictive, dark, rich, thick sauce that is as synonymous with Mexican cuisine as pasta is to Italian cuisine – the focus of my obsession. Chicken Mole Pasta seemed like the perfect way to marry my two great loves. After a number of tries, what finally came out of the kitchen was a savory pasta dish filled with deep, complex flavors that was absolutely delicious.
I wanted to keep the preparation as simple as possible so I used a prepared mole sauce available in any mega-mart in the Mexican food section. Prepared mole sauce is a paste with a dense consistency and a little goes a long way. There’s a lot to be said about making mole sauce from scratch but I’ve purchased mole paste from markets in Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca and find that for a fusion dish like this one, a prepared mole works beautifully and keeps the recipe easy.
We are going to start with a basic Italian pasta sauce, transform it with the addition of mole sauce and serve it over rigatoni with a good Parmigiano-Reggiano and Queso Fresco cheese, topped with a dollop of fresh sour cream, baked corn tortilla shreds and chopped parsley. Once the sauce is finished, it’s mostly just assembly. Queso fresco cheese is a crumbly cheese shaped into a disk and typically found in the cheese section of your local mega-mart.
You can use regular sour cream but I wanted a little more pop than you get with store-bought sour cream. By stirring about 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar to a cup of heavy cream and setting it in the refrigerator for about an hour, you can get a great home-made sour cream with just the right amount of pop to compliment the mole-pasta sauce.
- Cut each chicken breast along its length into 4 pieces, liberally season with salt and pepper and set aside. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to a heavy sauce pan to cover the bottom to a puddle and place over a high-heat until it reaches 350 degrees. A few popcorn kernels added to the pan takes the guess-work out as they pop at exactly 350 degrees.
- Once the pan reaches temperature, quickly brown the chicken all sides, remove and set aside. Immediately add chopped garlic to the hot oil stirring for about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, basil, mole paste, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce fire to low and simmer until reduced by half stirring frequently. As the sauce thickens it has the tendency to stick so make sure to keep an eye on it.
- While the sauce is cooking, stack the corn tortillas and cut them into thin strips about 1/8 inch wide. Toss them randomly onto a baking sheet and bake in a 280 to 300 degree oven until crisp. You want to make sure that they dry out to a crisp without browning. Remove and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the sauce about 20 minutes before serving and continue to maintain the sauce at a slow simmer.
- To assemble plates, add 1/4 of the rigatoni into each of 4 pasta bowls spooning an ample amount of sauce on each. Place 2 pieces of chicken atop the rigatoni and sprinkle 1/4 of parmigiano-reggiano, queso fresco and chopped parsley over each. Next, carefully create a bird’s nest with the tortilla strips on top each and finally add a healthy dollop of sour cream right before taking to the table.