Specializing in authentic Texas barbecue with a uniquely Latin American twist, Davila’s BBQ in Seguin’s mesquite-smoked beef brisket, pork ribs, lamb ribs, and more highlights and shares the flavors as well as the stories of the Tejano community. This Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 through October 15, 2021, Adrian Davila, award-winning third-generation pitmaster, continues to honor his family’s legacy and the traditions of Mexican-American cooking, all while exploring his own unique identity.
Adrian owns and operates the neighborhood institution that has been run by his family since 1959. At Davila’s, the signature dishes, such as underground Mexican-style barbacoa, trace their culinary roots back to the vaqueros, the Latin cattle herders who once roamed the plains of Texas and Mexico. These resourceful cowboys may have been the first ‘pitmasters’— they dug actual pits to slow-smoke whole animals into tender succulence and infused the local ingredients with the pungent, bright flavors of the Iberian Peninsula.
Today, Davila keeps the tradition of the past alive in his restaurant, in the pages of his cookbook, Cowboy Barbecue: Fire & Smoke from the Original Texas Vaqueros, and he’s sharing the secrets for his South Texas version of mole with you. It’s a recipe his mom created because she didn’t have access to some of the traditional Mexican ingredients for her moles, so she improvised by using chili powder and peanut butter and sometimes prepared foods, such as canned tomatoes.
Adrian states, “You can think of it as an Americanized version of an ‘authentic mole,’ but in my world, this is a true South Texas mole — a home-cooked Tejano recipe, probably improved along the way by my grandmother. As in all good moles, the flavors meld together into, in this case, a beautiful caramel-colored sauce.”
South Texas Peanut Butter Mole
3 cups water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken (giblets removed), cut into 8 pieces
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Manteca (lard) or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 white onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Arroz Mexicano (page 156) or corn tortillas for serving
1. Thoroughly stir together 1 cup of the water and the peanut butter and chili powder in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and set aside.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Melt the manteca in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook the chicken until it begins to brown on both sides, for a total of 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and onion to the skillet and continue to cook, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent and the garlic is fragrant, an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Stir in the prepared peanut butter mixture and the remaining 2 cups of water. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and the chicken is fully cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. The chicken should easily come off the bone.