Marcus Samuelsson's Fried Chicken Twist On Mexican Mole

When it comes to delicious poultry dishes, fried chicken is right up there with the best of them. The flavor, the tender and moist meat encased within the crunchy fried batter, what's not to love? Another strong contender in the world of tasty poultry dishes is Mexican chicken mole. Tender chicken served with the most deliciously rich and decadent chile and chocolate-based gravy to create one of the most nuanced and flavorful sauces in the Mexican culinary world. So is it such a wild thought to combine fried chicken and mole? Chef Marcus Samuelsson doesn't seem to think so.

In a YouTube recipe video that he did for Tasty, Chef Samuelsson combined a delicious spiced fried chicken recipe with his take on a rich mole-inspired sauce. The results looked delicious, so would you try this at home? It doesn't seem too outlandish to combine rich and flavorful fried chicken with an additionally luxurious and deeply spicy mole sauce. 

What is mole?

Chicken mole could be one of your favorite Mexican dishes, but if you've never tried it and have always been curious, you might be wondering what makes it so special. Meat and chocolate? Should these two really be combined? The short answer is yes! 

Mole is a rich and delicious sauce that hails from the Oaxaca and Puebla areas of Mexico. What makes mole so delicious is the intricate layering of flavors that can oftentimes take half a day to prepare. There are multiple variations of mole, but what most of them have in common is the presence of cocoa or chocolate, along with chiles and seasoning. Some variations are sweeter or spicier than others, but you can always expect mole to be rich and flavorful. A traditional mole poblano recipe contains ancho chiles (which are dried poblanos) chocolate, garlic, onion, and lots of seasonings. Mole is rich like chocolate but spicy from the chiles, and if you strike the balance just right, it's balanced and savory rather than overly sweet.

Mole is often paired with chicken and this might be because chicken tends to be a leaner meat than beef or pork. Chicken also isn't as innately flavorful on its own, so pairing it with a rich and flavorful sauce is a match made in foodie heaven. Chicken mole is a wonderful meal to have but when paired with fried chicken could it be even better?

How to make mole fried chicken

To make Marcus Samuelsson's mole-inspired fried chicken recipe, start by preparing fried chicken the way you normally would. Samuelsson has a few tricks up his sleeve that make his recipe extra flavorful. He suggests using bone in dark-meat chicken that still has the skin. He also highly recommends brining your chicken for at least two hours before frying it. 

In keeping with the theme of Mexican food and mole, Samuelsson flavors his dredging flour with a little bit of chile spice to give it a kick. Then once the chicken is frying he makes his version of a mole sauce. It calls for ground chile powder in place of dried chiles, but the effect is similar. He also adds onion, shallot, cumin, peppercorns, butter, dark Porter beer, chicken stock, honey, and chocolate. It's far from a traditional mole sauce recipe, but the flavor profile is very similar. You could make a sauce identical to Samuelsson's recipe, or you can always make your favorite authentic mole sauce recipe. 

Once your chicken is fried to golden brown perfection, let it rest for a few minutes and then you can either drizzle it with your mole sauce, or you can take a trick out of Samuelsson's playbook and toss the chicken in a small amount of the sauce in a bowl. Either way, you're bound to have a delicious meal. It may be a little messy, but we bet you'll be licking your fingers with glee.