Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food as History or Project Food Blog Challenge #1

All of us have to eat.  I, for one, really enjoy eating – it not only makes me feel good, but it is a profoundly social experience for me.  I gain so much pleasure out of cooking for others and I feel food is always an occasion for sharing.

This feeling is also why I have created a food blog.  I like the sense of connection, the bond I make with my readers.  I can’t necessarily feed your stomach, but I can offer you something that I hope is filling none the less.  And, perhaps we can share an experience when you recreate something like it in your kitchen.

Readers of my earlier posts will recall that my husband and I are living temporarily in Fort Worth, Texas, not far from the community where I grew up.  I have moved around a lot in my life, and I’ve been feeling the need to settle down in one place soon.  It has been a comfort to be back in Texas, but I know our current living situation is only temporary.  I like the idea of long-time connections and a sense of history and ownership with a place. I’ve realized that I’ve been creating those connections and building a history even while I move from place to place.

Food carries my history and creates my sense of place.  I share myself and my history when I cook for others.  The food described in this blog explains who I am and where I am from.  But, I don’t focus solely on my plate.  I put my recipes and menus in the context of my life.  I want my readers to understand what influences my cooking, what leads to my ingredient choices, and why I do what I do. 

I hope this blog inspires others to cook, and to feel relaxed and creative in the kitchen.  I like the quote from Herman Melville – “We cannot live for ourselves alone.  Our lives are connected by a thousand visible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”  I believe it well describes blogging, but it also fits how I want to think of my life.

This weekend, I felt the joy of these invisible threads, these sympathetic fibers.  My husband and I invited friends over to watch football and be fed.  We spent time with people who have been woven into our lives from years ago and only recently.  They’ve all had an impact on my life and an impact on what comes out of my kitchen. 

In deciding what to feed them, I turned to a football watching favorite shared with me by another old friend, Patrick.  He always made chicken mole when friends came over to watch the Dallas Cowboys, and I felt it had been too long since I had some.  He taught me a recipe shortcut and I’ll share it with you.

Short-cut Chicken Mole
Serves 6 to 8

about 3 lbs chicken (I used a mix of boneless chicken breasts and thighs)
1 to 2 Tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz jar of mole sauce (I prefer Dona Maria)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
32 oz water, chicken broth, or beer, or combination of any
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (diced) - optional
rice for serving - optional
tortillas for serving - optional

Heat canola oil in heavy-bottomed pan and add chicken pieces.  Give them a nice brown sear, they don't need to be cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add more canola oil, if needed, and put onion into pan to soften and brown a bit.  Add garlic and stir.  

Pour in jar of mole sauce.  Yes, I know...a jar of  mole sauce.  I'm not normally an advocate for jarred sauces, but we can doctor it up and you will appreciate the short-cut.  

The spice sauce is very thick and dense, and can be very strong tasting.  I add peanut butter to smooth the edges and add a bit of depth.

Now pour in the liquid so that the sauce will thin.  I used just beer this weekend, but you can use any combination of water, chicken broth, or beer.  Stir.

I add chipotle peppers with adobo sauce to add a bit more heat to the sauce.  You can adjust the amount of peppers, skip them entirely, or add a different kind of spice, if you prefer.  Keep stirring until the mole sauce is smooth.

Add browned chicken pieces.  Then just let the sauce simmer and break down the chicken so it is meltingly tender.  This makes it a great dish for casual parties.  You can let it keep simmering on low heat for a while as folks help themselves at different times.  This weekend, I let it simmer for almost 3 hours before we dug in the first round.  It also reheats well.

You can serve the mole sauce over rice, as I prefer, or use tortillas to make mole tacos, like my husband.


  1. Loving your recipe for the Project Food Blog. I'm also from Texas!

    I voted for you and good luck :)


    I would also like to invite you to participate in my giveaway

  2. Wonderful raison d'etre:) And I do love a good mole sauce! Best of luck in the competition; I hope you go far!

  3. I love what you said about the bond that is created in the food blogging community, I am beginning to learn that for myself and it is a lovely discovery. I too voted for you my fellow contestant - good luck!

  4. Thanks for all the encouraging words! There are so many impressive bloggers on Food Buzz!

  5. Great post! I live 30 minutes from FW and sing with the Fort Worth Opera!! Small world!! Best of luck with PFB! You've got my vote! :)

  6. i can't wait to try to this short cut chicken. thank you for sharing. you got my vote!