A bag of molé has been living in my freezer for months. I wanted to do some barbecued chicken for this Sunday’s dinner, but I did not want it to be the same old, same old. I thought using the molé as a barbecue sauce was just the ticket.
Molé is a complicated sauce made from chilies, seeds, fruit and nuts and chocolate—my version calls for 27 ingredients and it is by no means the most complex. It is a major project to make even a small batch, but you are left with enough sauce for several meals. Fortunately, it freezes well.
Note: If you do not have the hours it takes to make a batch of mole, there are good commercial brands available.
When you are barbecuing chicken there is always the dilemma of: When do you cut up the chicken? Cooking the chicken in big pieces guarantees moist chicken, but it prevents the basting sauce from coating each serving piece when you cut them up—I usually cut the breast into three or four pieces. If you cut before you grill, each piece will be well coated with sauce, but you run the high risk of the meat drying out—especially for the breast pieces.
I decided that the solution was to do both. I cut the back and breast bones out of a large chicken. I then grilled the two halves. After letting the cooked chicken rest, I cut the halves into portion sized pieces and basted them well on the grill. Five minutes later, I had both moist and well coated servings.
Note: To go with my chicken, I am making Mexican rice, chili rellenos, and salt & pepper cabbage.
Karl’s Molé Basted Barbecued Chicken
1 whole chicken
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1+ cup Karl’s Molé Poblano (or store bought molé)
1. Using culinary scissors and a paring knife cut the back and breast bones out of a large chicken. Cut the skin between the breast to separate the halves
Tip: You want to leave as much of the skin intact as you can.
2. Using a sharp fork, prick the skin 10-20 times—especially where you see large deposits of fat under the skin.
Tip: Use a knife to remove any large lumps of fat at the edges of the skin, but try not to separate the skin from the meat.
3. Sprinkle pepper and salt over both sides of each chicken half.
Tip: Rub the seasoning in, so that it does not fall right off.
4. Cover the chicken loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour.
Tip: The wrap is just to keep off any flies.
5. When your coals are ready put an aluminum tray at the front of the grill and pour the coals behind it.
Tip: The aluminum tray does several things: 1) It gives you a super-hot zone at the back of the grill, by pushing all the coals to a narrow edge at the back. 2) It reduces heat of the front cool cooking zone by as much as 10º F, giving you a much gentler roasting environment. 3) Finally, it catches the dripping fat and prevents flair up that could scorch the meat.
6. Put the grill over the coals and let it heat up for five minutes.
7. Lay the chicken halves directly over the coals—skin side down—and close the lid and any air vents. Sear the chicken for 5-6 minutes.
Tip: The heat of the coals will cause a lot of the fat under the skin to render into liquids and drip down onto the coals. If the vents are open, this grease will catch fire and flare up to burn the skin. By closing all of the vents there is not enough oxygen for open flames. The grease will smoke rather than flair up.
8. Put half a cup of molé into a small cup.
9. Brush the tops of the chicken halves with molé and flip the chicken over.
10. Baste the chicken skins with molé and close the lid again. Roast over the coals for another 5-6 minutes.
11. Move the chicken to the front of the grill and turn them skin side down, baste the pieces well with the molé and turn then them skin side up.
12. Baste the skins with the molé and close the lid to the barbecue.
Note: Open all of the air vents.
13. Roast the chicken for 40-50 minutes without lifting the grill lid.
Tip: How long you roast depends on the size of your bird.
14. Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes.
15. Cut the chicken into portions and return the pieces to the cool side of the grill. Use the remaining molé to baste all sides of the chicken—particularly the cut edges.
16. Close the grill and cook for another five minutes.
17. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent with the foil.
18. Remove the foil just before serving.