Monday, December 29, 2008

Mole Rojo Clasico with Smoked Pheasant

For Christmas dinner, I decided to rely on the Whole Foods smoked meat service. Since trying pheasant for the first time in October, I had been pondering the possibility of smoked pheasant, and that became the focus of our meal. The pre-smoked, and therefore fully cooked, birds allowed me to spend some extra time on the sauce: mole rojo from Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate at a Time. I had made mole once before, but this was my first time following this recipe. This was actually a kind of quick and easy mole believe it or not.

The preparation began with roasting tomatillos and frying and soaking dried chiles. Garlic, almonds, and raisins were also fried. The chiles were pureed first and then cooked down some before water was added. The other ingredients were pureed with the addition of bread, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and chocolate. That combination was added to the simmering chiles, more water was added, and all continued to simmer. I found that the consistency was a bit thinner than I’m used to seeing, so I left it all to reduce a few extra minutes.

The smoky, rich flavor of the pheasant slathered in mole sauce was just what I’d hoped to concoct. If you haven’t ordered smoked meats from Whole Foods, I highly recommend you try it. Any meat, any time, they’ll smoke it. At least they do at our local store. And, pheasant? It’s like the best, most flavorful chicken you’ve tasted but better. The mole was complex, earthy, spicy, and aromatic. I intentionally added extra dried chiles with some heat, but the finished sauce was well-balanced. The raisins added a little sweetness, the garlic punched up the flavor, the almonds smoothed things out, and the spices tricked the palate in several good ways.

The pheasant and mole were served with warm corn tortillas, green beans with fresh nopales, and purple potatoes roasted with ancho powder. We toasted with a bold tempranillo, and tucked into yet another satisfying and very filling holiday meal. The remaining meat and sauce became pheasant-mole enchiladas. I’m definitely not ready for New Year’s resolutions or light and healthy meals just yet.


  1. I have become a mole fan when I wasnt one before....

  2. This is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. I won a cooking contest at church with this exact recipe (including the turkey). The smoked pheasant sounds amazing, though.

  3. I have not tried pheasant yet but it is looking really good hiding under that tasty mole sauce!

    Have a great new year!

  4. happy 2009!

    i gotta say, you're a woman after my own heart serving this for christmas dinner. i would love to be a guest over your house! this looks great. love pheasant.

  5. I am with Doggy- I grew up with it around me and was not a fan, but will have to try it..and you also are going to get credit for an idea you just helped spark that will include my squash this week! Thanks for your wonderful foods you create...


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