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Mexican Turkey Drumstick Mole

Scott Phillips

Servings: six to eight.

In this classic Mexican stew, turkey legs are poached until falling-apart tender, then the meat is teased off the bones and simmered in the rich, spicy sauce flavored with bittersweet chocolate, ground almonds, and three varieties of dried Mexican chiles.


For the poached drumsticks

  • 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and each studded with 4 whole cloves
  • 6 medium unpeeled cloves garlic
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. fennel or aniseed
  • One 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 large turkey drumsticks (about 3 lb. total)

For the mole sauce

  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 3 mulato chiles
  • 3 guajillo chiles
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup whole toasted almonds
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (about 1 cup), or 1 cup canned seeded tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut into 6-inch strips
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel or aniseed
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 480
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 230
  • Fat (g): 25
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 420
  • Carbohydrates (g): 33
  • Fiber (g): 6
  • Protein (g): 33


Poach the drumsticks

  • In a large (8-quart) Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, combine the broth, onions, garlic, and spices. Add the drumsticks and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the meat is tender, about 1-1/2 hours. During cooking, add broth as needed to keep the drumsticks submerged, and turn them over from time to time. Transfer the drumsticks to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool. Strain the broth and save. Discard any solids.

    When the legs are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard. Pull the meat from the bones and remove any sinews. Leave the meat in the largest chunks possible and set aside in a large bowl.

Make the mole sauce

  • Tear the chiles into large pieces, discarding the stems and seeds.

    In a large (12-inch), dry, heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat, toast the chiles, turning them frequently, for 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, add the raisins, cover with 3 cups boiling water, and soak for at least 30 minutes or until soft.

    Drain the chiles and raisins. Set aside 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid and combine the remaining liquid with the turkey broth.

    Put the almonds and chocolate in a food processor and pulse several times to finely grind them. Add the chiles and raisins, the reserved 1/2 cup of chile liquid, and the tomatoes, tortillas, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, fennel, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Process until smooth.

    In a large (8-quart) Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chile mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens and becomes quite thick, about 8 minutes. Add 4 cups of the turkey broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the sauce is thick but still pourable, about 40 minutes. Add more turkey broth if it becomes too thick.

    Stir in the turkey meat and cook for 10 minutes over low heat so the turkey can absorb the flavors of the mole sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey and sauce into a shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Make Ahead Tips

The turkey legs can be poached a day ahead (refrigerate the meat and broth separately). The chiles and raisins may be soaked overnight and refrigerated in the soaking liquid.

Serve over Basic White Rice.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Dena_in_Seattle | 08/15/2015

    Love this recipewe skip the turkey drumstick part. Instead my husband smokes a turkey breast on the smoker, and then we dice up the turkey and add to the mole. I also serve this over mashed sweet potatoes. Delicious and easy.

  • User avater
    Lupini | 05/28/2011

    I used this recipe because I wanted just the sauce. I am not very familiar with mole sauces but this one seemed very good. It's got a nice spicy kick but not excessive. I did make a few modifications however. I only used two of each of the chillies, I left out the tortillas and since I wasn't doing this with turkey I used chicken stock instead. Now I have a supply of this sauce that I am going to use on firm tofu, shimp, some other fish along with a veggies and maybe some quinoa or bulgar wheat pilaf. Very tastey!

  • Les_Canadiens | 11/03/2010

    This was our first mole and it yielded nice complex flavorful results. We found the mole to be lacking slightly in richness. We added a tiny bit of dark brown sugar at the end to adjust. Flavours were quite different than the slightly chemically taste most bottled moles possesse. Although the cooking times makes this a two night preparation, the work was worth it. We liked the flavours of the poaching technique but the dark meat of the drumsticks at times overwhelmed the sauce. We would apply the same techniqe to a turkey breast next time.

  • cmiller | 11/02/2010

    This is a brilliant idea. Turkey legs are fine when you're a kid, but eventually you find out that they have what amounts to the structure of an umbrella wrapped in some stringy bundles of meat. This recipe lets the meat just fall away from the unedible bits. The three hours of poaching left the house smelling wonderful, and the poaching liquid made great stock. We cheated a bit by using mole from our local Mexican grocery, making this smart and easy. Way to go Bruce.

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