Los Angeles

Just Like Ma: Grandma’s Mole

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There isn’t a memory of my grandmother, which is not tied to the kitchen. From a young age, I watched in amazement as she opened up weathered cookbooks in English and began deciphering recipes like an archeologist studying ancient glyphs. I was consistently surprised by the mouth-watering food she created — despite her never-ending struggle to pronounce most of the ingredients on her grocery list.

With just one whiff, you were hit with immense love intermingling with the tartness of vine ripened tomatoes in her lengua guisada (stewed tongue) or the zing of the peppers in her pollo en molé. It’s that vivid memory that has me experimenting in my own kitchen. In fact, as I grow older I use my favorite childhood recipes as a springboard for my own food innovations —many of which have to be quick and easy for my busy workweek.

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My grandmother’s Pollo en Molé recipe is just the beginning of my journey. But there’s a twist. While I’m paying homage to the mole of my childhood, I’ve chosen to stray from tradition. Rather than grinding my own dried peppers and spices in a molcajete or mortar, I’ve gone with an ingredient that will be easier to for all of us to use. Blame it on my busy schedule, but this girl would rather spend more time around the dinner table.


Pollo en Molé – Serves 4:

8 – Chicken Thighs (You can use any pieces, I just had thighs on hand)

½ – Yellow Onion

1 – Slicing Tomato (aka Beefsteak or Globe tomatoes)

4 – Garlic cloves

1-Teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

2 – Teaspoons Kosher Salt to begin with, adjust to taste

2- Doña Maria Mole Sauce bottles

1 – Spoonful of Creamy Peanut Butter


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How to:


Wash and clean your chicken under cold water.

Fill half of a large soup pot with water and place on medium heat.

Once the water begins to heat up, but not boiling, place the chicken in — being careful not to splash yourself with hot water as they go in.

Leave on medium heat for 30 medium heat.

Skim fat off the top and add two teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of ground pepper, 1 ½ yellow onion, one small tomato and the four cloves of garlic.

Let all ingredients boil on medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until the ingredients percolate into a rolling boil.

Then, turn down heat for one last boil.

After the last boil on low heat, separate chicken in another pan while you prepare the sauce.

Keep chicken broth intact for the sauce.


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Depot the mole into a large sauté pan.

Slowly add six ladles of your homemade chicken broth and whisk it into the molé to dilute the concentrate.*

Place the mixture on medium heat & stir occasionally to avoid burning.

Add one spoonful of creamy peanut butter into the mixture for sweetness.

Once the mixture boils, ladle the mixture over the chicken.

Serve over rice or steamed root vegetables.

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Just Like Ma is just one in a series of posts looking back at my favorite family recipes and I’m looking to hear from you all. Have a favorite family recipe you’ve wanted to revamp or reinvent? Share it with Fat Girl Food Squad. We’d love to learn a little about you and your favorite family dishes.

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  1. Maria Eugenia Escobar says:

    Linda, thank you for this article! It is really nice to learn how sweet you are with my Mommy ☺️ She is the best in the kitchen 😍

  2. Maria Eugenia Escobar says:

    Linda, thank you for this article, it is really nice to learn how sweet remembrances you have with my mommy ☺️
    I’ll try to make this receipt!

  3. Irene Madden says:

    Very nicely laid out Linda! The recipe sounds really good..I’ll have to try it one of these days. Never thought your grandma cooked Mole. We need some Salvadoran recipes please!!!! Cheers!