One of my hubby’s favorite things in the world of flavors is cilantro and mole sauce so I took a huge risk with this dinner! I like mole, but I’m usually not a huge cilantro fan except for Chuy’s cilantro rice. This dish is not only amazingly good, it’s a quick dinner too! I doubled the sauce only because if it was good I wanted it to go the extra mile which it did! If you double it, I warn you it will take a little longer than normal to make since it needs to cook down.
Sautéed Chicken with Quick Mole Sauce and Cilantro Rice
(Adapted from The Chopped Cookbook by Food Network)
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups medium-grain white rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 tablespoons chile powder, preferably ancho
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Cook the rice: Puree 1 cup of the cilantro with 1 3/4 cups water in a blender.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the rice and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 1 minute.
Add the cilantro water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook undisturbed until the rice is tender and absorbs all the liquid, about 18 minutes. Let stand, covered until ready to serve. Fluff with a fork and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro before serving.
Saute the chicken: Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the five-spice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a couple turns of pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and partially cooked through, 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. (I grilled ours to add a little more flavor.)
Start the mole: Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium heat.
Add the chile powder, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon five-spice and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add 1/2 cup water and stir to combine.
Add the nut butter, soy sauce, sugar, and cocoa powder and whisk until combined.
Add 1 more cup water and bring to a simmer.
Finish and serve: Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer the chicken, flipping occasionally, until it is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 12 minutes. Serve the chicken and mole sauce with the cilantro rice on the side. (If you grill the chicken add towards the end when sauce is near thickened.)