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Mole Poblano

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Seves 12 to 15.

  • by Rick Bayless from Fine Cooking
    Issue 23

Mexico's most famous dish blends chiles, spices, nuts, and seeds into a vibrant sauce full of intricate flavors--here paired with turkey.

  • 16 medium dried mulato chiles (about 8 oz.)
  • 5 medium dried ancho chiles (about 2-1/2 oz.)
  • 6 dried pasilla chiles (about 2 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup lard or vegetable oil; more if needed
  • 1 large ripe tomato, roasted or broiled until the skin is lightly blackened, peeled, and cored (or 3/4 of a 15-oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, well drained)
  • About 2 oz. Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped (or 2/3 oz. unsweetened cocoa)
  • 10 black peppercorns (or a scant 1/4 tsp. ground)
  • 4 cloves (or a generous 1/4 tsp. ground)
  • 1/2 tsp. aniseed (or a generous 1/2 tsp. ground)
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick (or about 1 tsp. ground)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds; more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • Heaping 1/3 cup (2 oz.) unskinned almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins (about 2 oz.)
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 stale corn tortilla
  • 2 slices stale white bread
  • 1 canned chipotle chile, seeded (optional)
  • About 2-1/2 qt. turkey broth (or homemade or low-salt chicken broth) 
  • One 10- to 12-lb. turkey, cut into 8 pieces
  • About 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • About 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Tip:
Mexican chocolate is made with sugar and often cinnamon, almonds, and vanilla. You can substitute unsweetened cocoa at one-third the volume.

Stem, seed, and devein the dried chiles, reserving 2 tsp. of the seeds. Tear all the chiles into large pieces.

Mole Poblano Recipe

Heat 1/4 cup of the lard or oil in a large pan. When hot, fry a few of the chiles at a time for several seconds until they turn nut brown. Transfer them to a large bowl, letting as much fat as possible drain back into pan. Cover the chiles with boiling water, weight them to keep them submerged, soak for at least 1 hour, and drain

Mole Poblano Recipe

In a large bowl, break up the tomato with the back of a spoon. Add the chocolate to the tomato.With a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, pulverize the peppercorns, cloves, aniseed, and cinnamon stick. Add these to the tomato mixture.

In a dry skillet set over medium heat, toast the sesame, coriander, and reserved chile seeds, one kind at a time, stirring, until lightly browned. Add to the tomato mixture.Heat another 1/4 cup of the lard or oil in the skillet.  Add the almonds and stir frequently until browned through, about 4 minutes.  Remove, draining well, and add to the tomato mixture. Add the raisins to the hot oil and fry, stirring constantly, until they puff (as shown). Drain well and add to the tomato mixture.

Mole Poblano Recipe

Add the onion and garlic to the hot fat and cook over medium high, stirring frequently, until browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Press on them to drain the excess fat and then transfer the onion and garlic to the tomato mixture. If necessary, add a little more fat to the pan, and then fry the tortilla until browned, break it up, and add it to the bowl. Add the bread to the pan, quickly flip it over to coat both sides with fat, and then brown it on both sides. Tear into large pieces and add to the tomato mixture.

Working in three batches purée the drained chiles and the chipotle in a blender. Add just enough broth to keep everything moving, about 1/4 cup. Pulsing will help. Strain the purée through a medium sieve to remove any unground skins and seeds. Purée the tomato mixture in the same way. Set aside the two purées separately.

Heat another 1/4 cup of lard or oil in a large pot (at least 8 qt.) over medium-high heat. Pat the turkey pieces dry with paper towels and brown them in the hot fat, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the browned  turkey pieces to a roasting pan large enough to hold them comfortably.

Mole Poblano Recipe

Pour off the fat, leaving just a light coating on the bottom of the pot. Set the pot over medium-high heat. Add the chile purée: it should sear and sizzle sharply, never losing the boil. Stir constantly until the purée darkens and is a very thick paste, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée, and stir it for several minutes until everything’s thickened once again. Simmer the mole to allow the flavors to meld.

Stir in 5 cups of broth until smooth, partially cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, to bring all the flavors into harmony, about 45 minutes. Taste and add salt and sugar as needed. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it’s too thick, thin it with a little broth.

Heat the oven to 325°F. Pour the sauce over the turkey in the roasting pan and bake until the turkey is tender but still moist and registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the turkey from the pan. Spoon off any accumulated fat from the sauce, taste, and reseason with salt and sugar.

Mole Poblano Recipe

When the turkey has cooled, skin each piece and cut the meat from the bone in large pieces, slicing against the grain. Arrange the meat on two or three large heatproof serving dishes. Shortly before serving, pour the sauce over the turkey, cover, and heat in a 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately before serving, spoon some sauce from the edges over the turkey to give it a glistening coat and sprinkle it with sesame seeds.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on fifteen servings; Calories (kcal): 560; Fat (g): 26; Fat Calories (kcal): 230; Saturated Fat (g): 8; Protein (g): 52; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 470; Cholesterol (mg): 125; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Ben Fink

This is a wonderful recipe, with strong but complex flavors. It got rave reviews from my dinner party crowd. I'm not fond of turkey, but the mole sauce hides the turkey flavor. The sauce keeps well in the freezer, too. As the photos show, mole is a dark sauce, not necessarily the most attractive, so think hard about presentation. But the aroma and flavor more than make up for what it may lack visually.

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