Turkey season is upon us and if you're looking for another way to celebrate, here's just the thing. A traditional Mexican Mole sauce is a combination of different types of chiles, spices, bread, nuts, chocolate and about 20 other ingredients that is brewed all day (or sometimes over many days) until it becomes a thick, rich chocolatey flavorful sauce.
It is so incredible that in his book, Mexico One Plate at a Time, Rick Bayless describes it "When I first let a spoonful of classic Mexican red mole bathe my tongue, it was an experience comparable to taking in the vista from the rim of the Grand Canyon - singular, breathtaking, saturating my senses - because mole involves so many senses, and in such a complex and thrilling way." His version is amazing and takes hours and hours to make but don't worry - this method did not!
From my new BFF although she doesn't know it yet, Cinda Chavich's High Plains, The Joy of Alberta Cuisine, this mole has many of the flavors of the traditional version in a much easier package. Now, saying all of that pour yourself a glass of wine and settle into your apron because like most things that are superlative, it takes some time but the end result is well worth the effort.
Just so you know, I made some changes to the original recipe but experimentation is what kitchen witchery's all about. I was a little more liberal with the chiles because I didn't want to store the few that I had left in the package, never mind that I added more chipotles in adobo, but that's just personal taste because we like it darn near incindiary. Admittedly it caused a mild state of panic when I tried the sauce just before adding the turkey to it because holy moly it was some hot mole but it mellowed a lot after the 3 hour braising time. I also changed the method somewhat by leaving the skin on the turkey thighs and browning them well before I added them to the sauce. Hey, I like the additional flavor.
The recipe you're seeing has the original chile and spice count as Cinda developed it; however, I've changed the method accordingly.
By the way, turkey thighs are absolutely the only thing to use because in my opinion drumsticks have way too many tendons and would be very difficult to shred and breasts wouldn't work at all. You could save any any leftover sauce ladelled over some roasted sliced turkey breast but that's a whole other story. To be honest, I sure wish I'd doubled the recipe while I was at it - heck, I wish I'd tripled it. Yes, it is that DELICIOSO.
Braised Turkey in Mole Sauce (adapted from High Plains, the Joy of Alberta Cuisine)
You’ll need a cast iron Dutch oven to make this dish in the best way possible. If you don’t have one, put it on your Christmas wish list or just go buy yourself one – You’re worth it!
4 dried ancho chiles
1 chipotle chile in adobo
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped (I left the skins on)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried cumin
Bouquet garnie of 6 whole allspice berries, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves and 4 whole peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth
1 cup water
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raisins
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cube Knorr Swiss Chicken bouillon
3/4 of a disc of Mexican Chocolate, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large turkey thighs, skin on (about 2.5 pounds)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. Add dried ancho chiles and cook, pressing down with a spatula until soft. Turn often so they don’t burn. (About 5 minutes). Remove from heat and place chiles into a bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to hydrate for 15 minutes. Remove from bowl and remove seeds and stems.
Place chiles into a medium pot along with chipotle, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, bouquet garni and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, remove bouquet garnie and discard. Place all ingredients into a blender or using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Set aside.
Toast almonds in a small non stick pan over medium high heat, stirring often so they don’t burn. Remove to a plate and cool. Repeat process with sesame seeds watching them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove to a plate with almonds and allow both to cool to room temperature. Place toasted nuts and seeds into a blender and grind to a paste. Add raisins to blender and continue to grind until smooth.
Rinse Dutch oven out and dry well. Place oil in Dutch oven and heat over medium high until oil is shimmering. Wash and dry turkey thighs, then season well with salt and pepper. Brown well on both sides, 1 thigh at a time in hot Dutch oven. Remove browned thighs to a plate. In Dutch oven, combine pureed chile sauce, nut paste, chicken broth, chicken bouillon cube, and chocolate. Season with salt and pepper then bring sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Add turkey thighs. Cover pot and place in a 300 oven for 2 to 3 hours, or until turkey thighs are falling apart. Remove cover from pot for last 45 minutes of cooking to thicken sauce.
To serve, remove turkey thighs from pot. Discard bones and shred meat with 2 forks. Return meat to pot and incorporate with sauce. Serve in warmed tortillas (flour or corn) with shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, avocado and lots of fresh limes. Serves 6. Download Braised Turkey in Mole Sauce