Crockpot Chicken Mole (with rice pilaf)

chicken-mole One of the reasons I love traveling is the chance to try new foods.

I’m no Andrew Zimmerman, but I’ve tried some pretty crazy stuff in my day….fried grasshoppers (surprisingly bacony), goat stomach (intestinally gritty), and bush rat (predictably swampy)….and all of these in East Africa, where the chances to eat and interact with wildlife of all sorts were plentiful.

The year I spent teaching in South Sudan was spent living in a mud hut called a tukul, which was basically an extension of the earth. So naturally, critters of all shapes and sizes made their way in and tried to establish themselves as pets.
There was…
…a colony of termites (which we doused with baby powder, having heard it kills them).
…a moth about this big  (which I speared into a corner using a bamboo pole).

…a chicken (which laid an egg on my co-teacher and friend Jen’s pillow while we taught).

and of course

the rat (our term of endearment for the many rodents who invaded our space over the course of the year, climbing mud walls, chewing through bags to get into our airmailed candy, and generally being ratlike and disgusting).

sudan All true stories.

Outside of our humble hut, there were roosters who crowed hours before dawn, goats who bleated well into the night, lizards who scurried out of latrines as you walked in, and even the occasional giant snake.

almonds Needless to say, it was an eventful year, and food was no exception. I ate more rice and beans than I even care to tally, and it took me a full year before I even attempted to eat goat again.

blender Regardless, I loved it. And I miss living and traveling in places that are stranger and more beautiful than what I read about in National Geographics growing up. But maybe there’s something about being 7 months pregnant because I was more than happy to rental car and air condition my way through our vacation in Florida last week. I can’t say that Ft. Myers, was the most exotic place I’ve ever been to, but the gourmet Mexican fare we had last week was pretty inspiring nonetheless.

Because I only got a small bite of the chicken mole on Eric’s sampler plate, I came home and immediately resolved to make a crockpot chicken mole my friend Annie had told me about. I had never tried mole sauce before last week, and I was so excited to put one together myself.

With tomatoes, onions, dried ancho chilies, chipotle chilies, almonds, raisins, garlic, spices, and chocolate in the sauce, how could you not be intrigued? Plus, the crockpot simmers it all to perfection while it cooks up chicken that’s juicy and tender. We were not disappointed. This mole sauce packs a huge flavor punch – a little bit spicy with just the right amount of sweet (gracias, raisins and chocolate) to balance it out. We served this over the recipe’s recommended rice pilaf and were majorly pleased with ourselves. Plus, it makes a ton, so you can freeze individual meals for yourself and pull them out for lunches.

chocolate You should make this. Even if a sauce with chocolate and chilies intimidates you. Then, as it cooks and fills your house with deliciousness, you should sing “Mole! Mole! Mole! Mole!…Mole! Moooooooleeeee!” and cheer your meal on as many others do their football.

Comment Challenge: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Crockpot Chicken Mole (with rice pilaf)

(recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

(yields 10 servings)

This crockpot recipe comes together so easily. You can even put all of the ingredients together the night before, refrigerate, and throw it all in the crockpot the next day if you're on the go. I adapted it by using chicken breasts instead of thighs, and more raisins and cumin than the original recipe called for. I highly recommend serving this with the included rice pilaf recipe- the texture and taste of the rice with this dish was delicious!


Chicken Mole Ingredients:

2.5-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

coarse salt (to taste)

1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes (I used chopped frozen ones from our garden)

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded*

1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce**

1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted

1/2-3/4 c. raisins

3 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3 tbps. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

fresh cilantro leaves, for serving


Rice Pilaf Ingredients:

2 tbsp. butter

1 shallot, minced (in a pinch, I've used a 1/4 of a yellow or white onion)

1 c. brown rice

coarse salt and ground pepper (to taste)

1 dried bay leaf

2 c. hot water

1 c. frozen peas

3 tbsp. almonds, chopped or sliced


Chicken Mole Instructions:

Lightly grease the crockpot.


Season chicken thighs/breasts with salt and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.


In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chilies, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth.


Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, stir, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low).


Serve chicken and sauce topped with cilantro.


Rice Pilaf Instructions (reheats well if you want to make it the night before to serve with your crockpot meal the next day:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.


Add shallot and cook until softened, 3 minutes.


Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant and toasted, 2 minutes.


Season with salt and pepper and add bay leaf and hot water.


Bring to a boil over high; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and water is mostly absorbed (about 35-40 minutes).


Add peas and almonds. Cover and cook until peas are warm and water is absorbed, 5 minutes.


Fluff with a fork and serve.


*Ancho Chilies can probably be found in your grocery store's "ethnic" aisles.

**Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce come in a can. Since you're only using one, throw the rest (sauce included) into a ziploc bag and press until flat and the chilies are separated. These freeze really well and can be broken off and used in the future, one at a time.)



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24 thoughts on “Crockpot Chicken Mole (with rice pilaf)

  1. so glad you loved that recipe! more than anything, so glad you had a warm spring break. And, appreciated seeing the pictures from Sudan.

    • Thanks again for the recipe! We had such a good time away – so nice to have a break from school, from working on the house, from errands…hope you’re recovering!

  2. Thanks for sharing about your unwanted house guests in Sudan; made me smile! And nice pictures- cool sky and what are the ladies doing in the middle left picture? Okay crock pot! :) I think I can make this…. It sounds yummy!!

    • Hope you try it soon. Just was reading your blog for a while. Crockpots sure come in handy on tiny apartment kitchen counter spaces :)

  3. Your infestation-ridden descriptions of Africa again have made me resolved to never visit certain regions of that continent BUT I really loved that last photo of the huts — the texture and color of the mud was perfect. Is that the kind of hut you lived in? Is that pretty normal for most tribes or is it tribe-specific in terms of shape/materials/colors?? Just wondering…(since I never have time to make any of your wonderful recipes — only enjoy your stories and pictures and the idea of the fare introduced — sigh…). Love, s.

    • Someday, your time will come :) Those were indeed the huts we lived in. This type of housing was pretty common in the various areas I saw of South Sudan, but there is definitely some variation with regions and tribes. Especially in different countries…the variations were endless. I remember in South Africa, they had symbols from playing cards (hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds) often painted on the exterior of their homes. (Seemingly) random. Oh Sarah, you and all your parasitic knowledge. No wonder God gave you so many boys to introduce so many germs to your home :)

  4. Liz! Jen’s friend Grace here. OH. MY. WORD. I made this last night (so great by the way to have everything ready the night before and just throw it in the crockpot) and it’s amazing! We gobbled it up and Eli kept on saying “Mmmmm…Tasty! Spicy!” Which is a compliment, he loves spicy food. Great recipe and I can’t wait to tell everyone to make it. Have a good day!


    • Yay! So glad that is was EASY and well-received. So impressed your little guy will eat spicy food with gusto! How did you make that happen?

      • No real secret, just eating alot of spicy food when pregnant and breastfeeding (they can taste the spice in the breast milk) and not making a separate meal for him when we make spicy food. We’ve had some hiccups (Jen’s Bday this year! At that indian restaurant he was wiping his tongue cuz the food we ordered was too spicy, even for our taste!) But generally he loves it! Good luck with your little one!

  5. We made this last week for the first time. Wow! Our sauce-averse but formerly adventurous eater was super excited about the “chocolate sauce.”

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  9. I don’t eat “weird” food, and I would lose my lunch if it involved grubs, goats, or grasshoppers, but I did taste the tiniest bit of Scotch Bonnet once on a challenge and lived to regret it. We love Mexican food and I’m glad to find a recipe for mole that doesn’t have a zillion things I can’t buy in it, so a big thanks to you! We love it so much that I now buy bags of ancho, chipotle peppers (which are dried smoked jalapenos), and other dried peppers to simmer until soft then puree and dehydrate (they have to be simmered to remove the stems and seeds and membranes). After I have dehydrated the puree until it is crispy, I put it in my Nutribullet and turn it into pure chile powder. This method works far better than a coffee or spice grinder, and I can always use the Bullet for anything else I want, which cannot be said of a coffee grinder! (It becomes totally dedicated to peppers once you use it that way.) I can then make my own mixes or use the powdered chiles separately. Commercial chile powder is always a mixture, and making my own is very rewarding. There aren’t enough spices in the world to make me eat the things you did, though. I am far too queasy and much too old to do those things!

    • Haha – never too old to try something weird – especially if covered in mole sauce :) Sounds like you have a great method for making this!

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