Zapoteca: Shannon Bard’s Mole Dominguero

  • Shannon Bard of Portland, ME restaurant Zapoteca
  • Mole Dominguero at Zapoteca, Portland, ME

    Mole Dominguero embodies the comforts of homestyle Mexican fare.

It would be difficult to discuss the chefs who are keeping Portland in the national spotlight without mentioning Shannon Bard, whose cooking has been packing in crowds at Zapoteca, the wildly successful Mexican eatery she runs with her husband, Tom, and partner Sergio Ramos. She has been featured in nearly every major food periodical in the country, and has a forthcoming cookbook of her own.

Her signature dish of Mole Dominguero defines unpretentious, homestyle Mexican fare. “This is a common dish in Mexico, but the chicken is usually shredded into the mole sauce and then poured on top of rice,” Bard says. “I wanted something a bit more refined.” It all starts with a sauce of poblano chilies, chocolate, and traditional spices that simmers on the range for well over six hours. Spice rub is applied to a half chicken, (“I started with game hens but it made the whole thing a bit complicated to eat”) before the bird is cooked in duck fat and then crisped up at the last minute to enhance the golden skin.

Accompaniments include garlic-roasted black beans, red rice, tangy pickled red onion, and a dash of crema, all ready to be wrapped up in warm, soft tortillas—made in-house, of course.

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