Slow-cooker chicken mole

This recipe produces a thick, savory, chocolatey-nutty puree which is a great departure from normal backpacking fare!   Serve at camp over instant rice, or you can just rehydrate the sauce and eat it plain with a tortilla.

1 large onion

1/2 cup raisins

3 garlic cloves

2t ancho chile powder (or more to taste)

2t chipotle chile powder (or more to taste)

1C roasted almonds plus 2T slivered almonds to add just before serving

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1T sugar

1t ground cinnamon

1t ground cumin

1/2t ground coriander

1/8t ground nutmeg

3T unsweetened cocoa powder

4 skin-on chicken thighs – approx 4 (I usually leave the skin on for a backpacking meal to increase the fat content)

1T fresh cilantro, or 2t dried

To prepare the recipe in your kitchen at home:

Put the roasted almonds into the food processor and puree until very fine.  Cut the onion in quarters and add to the almond puree in the food processor along with all the other ingredients and pulse until it is a uniform, thick puree.   Season more with chile powder, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Put the chicken thighs uncooked into the bottom of the slow cooker and pour the puree on top.  Set the slow cooker to cook the food on low for 4-6 hours.  Check it at the 4 hour mark and stir to prevent burning of the food around the edges – though you do want to see carmelization (dark brown thick paste somewhat stuck to the sides of the cooker).  When the chicken thigh meat is falling off the bones and shredding on its own into thin shreds, and the puree has carmelized nicely, take a slotted spoon and fish out and discard the thigh bones.    Serve the mole over rice with a sprinkle of the slivered almonds, a dollop of sour cream (optional), and fresh cilantro .

To prepare the leftovers for the dehydrator, puree them briefly in the food processor until the pieces are small and fairly uniform.  Measure out the number of 1.5-2C servings that will fit on each dehydrator tray (you’ll need to use the solid plastic ‘fruit leather’ tray for this) and spread the mixture on the tray, in a uniform layer no more than 1/2 inch thick.  Run the dehydrator overnight and check the mixture for completeness of drying in the morning.  If the mixture doesn’t crumble into dry pieces but feels slightly wet, break it up and re-spread it onto the mesh trays before you go to work.  It will be ready for packaging when you get home.  To package, pulse the dry mixture in the food processor to break up the chunks, and then measure out the dried servings into individual zip-loc bags based on your pre-drying measurements (how many servings went onto each tray).  Make a little tag to go in the bag with what the food is, how many servings, and how much water to add back to each serving.

At camp, bring water to a boil or near-boil and add it to the zip-loc (or put the food and the already-heated water into a pot or mug to rehydrate), in an amount that brings the serving back up to the original hydrated volume.  Wrap in a cozy or aluminum foil to keep it hot (that will speed the rehydration), and wait 10-15 minutes.  If it’s still a little crunchy, wait a bit longer.  If it’s a bit too dry, you can add a bit more hot water.  Then enjoy, right out of the bag, mug or pot!

NOTE:  You can buy sour cream powder and mix with a little water and dried cilantro to put on top of your mole before serving on the trail for an extra, cold-hot contrast.

Calorie Planning Stats (without the sour cream):

Food Serving (gms) Serving (lbs) Calories Carbs (gms) Fiber (gms) Fat (gms) Protein (gms) Cals/Gm % Nutritive   Weight* % Carbs % Fats % Protein
2C serving of mole sauce (dry) with 1/2C dry instant rice 89 0.3 431 39 5 27 13 4.8 83% 46% 36% 18%
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