Moles are a signature dish of the Oaxacan region of Mexico. They are time-consuming but worth it for their rich flavor. The recipe calls for a mixture of dried peppers, including mulato and guajillo, which are fairly sweet and a little fruity.
This preparation takes away the pressure of producing a whole bronzed bird and frees up the oven for other Thanksgiving dishes. Leftovers make great tortilla filling and go well with Pickled Mushrooms (see related recipe).
Make Ahead: The mole can be prepared and refrigerated up to 5 days in advance, or earlier if frozen. The turkey can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. It is best to combine the mole and turkey no more than a few hours before serving.
Servings: 8 - 10
- For the bird
- 10-to-12-pound fresh turkey, cut into 12 pieces (giblet packet removed and reserved for another use)
- 1 large white onion, cut into thin slices
- 3 or 4 medium cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon salt
- For the sauce
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut in half
- 4 dried whole pasilla peppers
- 4 dried whole mulato peppers (see headnote; may substitute ancho chili peppers for more heat)
- 12 to 16 dried whole guajillo peppers (see headnote)
- 1/4 cup unsalted raw peanuts
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano or marjoram
- 2 whole cloves
- 4 whole allspice berries
- 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup corn oil
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 6 or 7 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
- 1 heaping tablespoon raisins
- 2 ripe plantains, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large corn tortilla, broken into pieces
- 2 slices white bread, cut into cubes (slices 1/2 inch thick)
- 2 ounces Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped or shaved
- 1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, or more to taste
For the bird: Combine the turkey pieces, onion, garlic (to taste), bay leaf and salt in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover the contents with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a full boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the turkey is fork-tender. While the turkey cooks, uncover the pot and skim off any impurities from the surface as needed.
While the turkey is cooking, make the mole: Position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the tomatoes cut side down on the sheet and broil for several minutes, until blistered and blackened. Let cool, then puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Move the oven rack to the middle position and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Have a separate rimmed baking sheet at hand.
Arrange the pasilla, mulato and guajillo peppers evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until they have softened.
Boil a kettle of water.
Transfer the peppers to a cutting board, leaving the oven temperature at 350. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, discard the stems; scrape out the seeds and reserve them. Place the softened peppers in a large saucepan and cover with the just-boiled water. Let them steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the peanuts and almonds on the same baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring a few times, until golden brown.
Place a heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the reserved pepper seeds and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan to promote even toasting, until they turn black. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 5 minutes, then pour into a fine-mesh strainer to drain.
Drain the peppers, then transfer them to a food processor along with the drained seeds. Process until smooth; if necessary, add a little of the cooking water from the turkey (or, if you're making the mole in advance, use chicken broth). Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer; reserve.
Combine the sesame seeds, oregano or marjoram, cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon in a dry saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted. Transfer to a dedicated spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until they are softened but not browned. Add the reserved tomato puree and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, then add the peanuts, almonds, spice powder, raisins and plantains. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Transfer in small batches to the blender or food processor and puree until smooth and thick, using broth from cooking the turkey to thin the mixture as needed.
Return the puree to the saute pan over medium heat. Add the pepper puree, tortilla pieces, bread, chocolate, salt and 4 to 5 cups of the turkey cooking liquid (or, if making the mole in advance, use chicken broth). Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes to form a thick, pourable sauce. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree until smooth. The finished sauce should be thick enough to coat the pieces of turkey. Taste, and add salt as needed. Return the sauce to a large saute pan over medium heat.
If desired, discard the cooked skin of the turkey pieces. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the turkey pieces to the sauce in the pan. Warm through for about 15 minutes, adjusting the consistency of the sauce by increasing the heat to medium-high to thicken if or by adding liquid from the turkey pot to thin it. Transfer the turkey to a warmed serving platter and pass the remaining mole in a gravy boat at the table.
Adapted from a Diana Kennedy recipe by Fernando Divina, executive chef at the Terrace Kitchen in Lake Oswego, Ore.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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