PhenomeNOMS: Wil Wheaton
By Erin Parr
Welcome to the eighth edition of PhenomeNOMS, a look at famous geeks and the food that has either inspired them, or is inspired by them. This week features one of the internet’s favorite child actors turned internet blogger, Wil Wheaton.
Wheaton’s most famous television role was playing Wesley Crusher, son of Doctor Beverly Crusher, on Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the time that the show aired, Wil’s character of Wesley met many mixed reviews from fans, everything from adoration from many younger female viewers, to outright disdain from convention attendees over the years. Since the show’s end, Wil has become an internet staple and a beacon of all things geekery for fans from all over the world. Wheaton has also done voice work for movies such as The Secret of NIMH and Naruto, played the role of Gordie Lachance in the movie Stand By Me, and played minor roles on shows such as Eureka and The Big Bang Theory.
Wil’s blog, Wil Wheaton dot NET, covers a variety of subjects about the actor’s life, including entries about table top and video game playing, conventions, and even his personal life. Wil’s goofy sense of humor and features about fans and other geeky subjects makes his blog a fantastic place to find out about what’s new and fantastic in the world of games, comics, and geekery. Wil has also published a number of books, which include short stories and science fiction titles as well as several about his experiences as an actor and famous geek.
While doing internet research, like I do, I came across a short interview with Mr. Wheaton that expressed his delight in a chicken mole dish he was once served on a set of a show, made by one of the crew’s grandmother. I can’t claim to have that recipe, nor to be someone’s grandmother who has made tried and true chicken mole for many decades, however I can share with you a recipe that I hope will come close to whatever delighted Wil Wheaton on the set that day.
Eatin’ with Wheaton: Chicken Mole
• 3-4lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
• 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
• 2 cups orange juice
• 1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
• 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
• ¼ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
• 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
• 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
• 6 dried guajillo chiles
• 4 dried ancho chiles
• 1/4 cup raisins
• 4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 2.7 ounce disk Mexican chocolate
• Pinch of sugar
• Chopped fresh cilantro to serve
• Warm flour tortillas
Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pot on medium heat. Add chicken to pot in batches and sauté until lightly browned on all sides, adding oil as needed, until cooked through. Add all cooked chicken, orange juice and broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
In another large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat and add your onions. Sautee your onions until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add almonds, pumpkin seeds, garlic, and all of your spices. Stir to soften the chiles.
Using tongs take chicken from the large pot and transfer to a bowl. Transfer the reserved liquid to the pan with the spices. Add the raisings, orange peel, and oregano and cover and simmer until the chiles are very soft, approximately 30 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the chocolate and sugar. Let the mixture stand until the chocolate is melted and everything has cooled slightly. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor (in batches, if possible) and pulse until smooth. Taste your mole sauce and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Shred your chicken and add to the sauce. Serve on tortillas with cilantro. Yum!