Once again, the weather has taken its temporary turn towards cool & comfortable here in Central Texas. The perfect excuse to break out the mole. Again.
The mole I’m making this time is probably the best known as well as the original: Mole Poblano.
Legend has it that in the 16th Century this dish was invented in desperation by the nuns of the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles. They were an impoverished order expecting a visit from the Archbishop and they really had nothing to feed him. So, they basically threw together what they had: day-old bread, chocolate, some chiles, nuts, an old turkey. The results were, shall we say, heavenly. Apparently, the Archbishop loved the meal. And a masterpiece was created.
For the last mole I made for you, Mole Rojo, I used exclusively chili powders. This was to demonstrate that they could be used as a substitution for the dried chiles and makes the preparation much easier. In this recipe, I do things the more traditional way, with dried chiles. It takes longer, most definitely. But, for mole purists, I hope I have redeemed myself with you.
A few notes:
1. When using the dried chiles, make sure they are fresh-looking and pliable (a contradiction, I know). If the chiles break apart when you try to bend them, it simply means they are too old and dried out (and possibly infested). You want the chilies to have retained their essential oils. That’s what gives them their flavor and aroma.
2. The best place to find the chiles (and all the ingredients for this recipe) is at a market that caters to the Hispanic community. (Here in Austin, my favorite is El Rancho Supermercado.) If they don’t have it, it’s pretty unlikely anyone else will. Besides, it’s a great place to go to just explore and try new things. Plus I get to practice my limited Spanish.
3. I used a 4-lb bone-in turkey breast for this example. You can use leftover turkey and skip step 1. However, be sure to use chicken or turkey broth instead of water. Otherwise, you won’t get the flavor you’re looking for.
4. This recipe makes a lot. You can serve up to 8. But, it does freeze beautifully.
4 c. chicken broth, turkey broth, or water
4 lbs. turkey
8 ea. mulato chiles
4 tbsp. mulato chile powder
6 ea. ancho chiles
3 tbsp. ancho chile powder
4 ea. pasilla chiles
2 tbsp. chile powder
1 ea. chipotle chile
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 lg. white onion, peeled and cut into 1/4′s, stem left on
6 cloves garlic, peeled, stem removed
3 ea. tomatillos, papery skin removed and rinsed
4 ea. Roma tomatoes, rinsed
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. raw almonds
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. masa
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 ground cinnamon (canela)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 disks Mexican chocolate, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Additional sesame seeds for garnish
1. Place the turkey and stock or water to a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Once the stock has come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the meat is cooked, about 30 – 45 minutes. Once the turkey is done, take it from the stock and set aside until cool enough to shred. Turn the heat off under the stock until all the other ingredients are ready.
2. If you’re using whole chiles, remove the stems and cut the chiles open to remove the seeds.
Dry roast the chiles in a heavy skillet over high heat for a few seconds on each side to soften slightly.
Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes. (It’s OK if they sit a little longer.)
Drain the chiles and discard the water.
Puree the chiles in a food processor or blender (you’ll need to do this in batches) until you make a paste. Set aside.
3. If you’re using the chile powders, dry roast them over high heat in a heavy skillet until they just begin to release a scent. Stir constantly to be sure the powders don’t burn. Pour the powder onto a plate or another flat surface and spread it out to help it cool. (Basically, skip step 2 all together.)
4. While the chiles are soaking, wipe out the pan. Dry roast the onion quarters, garlic, tomatillos, and tomato. You want black spots, but you don’t want to over-brown the vegetables.
Once you’ve roasted the tomatoes, peel and seed them. Cut the stems off the onion quarters. Set the vegetables aside.
5. Take the skillet off the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sesame seeds and anise seeds. Quickly roast until the seeds are toasted. Pour onto a small plate and set aside.
6. Add the oil to the skillet. Lightly fry the almonds and pecans. Drain on paper towels and let cool slightly.
Grind the almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and anise seeds together. Set aside.
7. Lightly fry the raisins until they just begin to puff. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
8. Turn off the heat under the oil. Add the masa and make a roux (don’t let it get too dark). Pour the roux into a small bowl and set aside.
9. Turn the heat back on under the stockpot with the broth to medium-high. Add in the chile paste or powder, onion, garlic, tomatillos, tomatoes, ground nut & spice mix, raisins, tomato paste, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
10. Meanwhile, shred the turkey. Discard any bone, skin, and gristle. Set the turkey aside.
11. After 45 minutes, remove the stockpot from the heat and let cool slightly.
Puree the mole with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor. If you want a super-smooth mole, after you’ve pureed it, you can pass it through a strainer.
12. Put the mole back on the heat and add the masa roux and the chocolate.
Cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the turkey and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
13. Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.