November 07, 2013 by
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.
I’ve made mole twice before on this blog – Mole Verde (Oct. 9, 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1120) and Mole Rojo (Oct. 30. 2012: http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=1170).
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.
Sesame and Anise Seeds
Clockwise: Brown Sugar, ground Cloves, ground Cinnamon
Clockwise: raw Almonds, Pecans, Raisins
Onion, Garlic, Romas, Tomatillos
Mexican Chocolate disks
Chiles, left to right: Chipotle, Pasilla, Ancho, Mulato
Chipotle – smoked and dried Jalapeño
Pasilla Chilie – dried Chilaca pepper.
Ancho Chile – dried Poblano Pepper
Mulato Chile – dried Mulato Pepper
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.
Cutting the stem off the chile. Using gloves is highly recommended. This not only keeps your hands from getting stained and sticky, it keeps the chile oils off your hands. A pair of sharp kitchen shears helps, too.
Cutting open the chile.
The insides. You want to get rid of as many seeds and veins as possible. They’ll make the final mole bitter if you don’t.
Removing the seeds and veins. If you have a good dried chile, there will be some oil residue inside. This is a good thing. And, again, the gloves are a very good idea.
Dry roast the chiles in a heavy skillet over high heat for a few seconds on each side to soften slightly.
Toasting the chiles. This not only helps to soften them up a bit, but it also starts to cook the oils and enhance the flavor.
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.)
Soaking the chiles. I like to put a small plate on top to keep them under water.
Drain the chiles and discard the water.
The chiles after soaking for 30 minutes. They’ll increase in size and become lighter in color. (The water hasn’t been drained off in this photo. Be sure to drain it.)
Puree the chiles in a food processor or blender (you’ll need to do this in batches) until you make a paste. Set aside.
The pureed chiles.
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.
Browning the fresh stuff: Starting with garlic. You just want a few brown spots; don’t over-brown.
Browning the onion quarters. Once these are cool enough to handle, cut off the stem ends.
The tomatillos. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet.
The Romas. Be sure they don’t burst in the skillet. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off as much of the skin as you can, cut off the stem end, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds.
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.
Toasting the sesame and anise seeds. You want them to have an aroma and begin to “jump” in the skillet. Immediately take them off the heat and pour onto a flat surface and spread out to cool.
6. Add the oil to the skillet. Lightly fry the almonds and pecans. Drain on paper towels and let cool slightly.
Frying the pecans and almonds. You just want to do this until they begin to take on some extra color.
Grind the almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and anise seeds together. Set aside.
The ground nuts and seeds. This smells amazing.
7. Lightly fry the raisins until they just begin to puff. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Frying the raisins.
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.
Making a roux with now a rather flavorful oil.
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.
Almost everything in the pot with the chicken/turkey stock.
10. Meanwhile, shred the turkey. Discard any bone, skin, and gristle. Set the turkey aside.
Shredded turkey. In this recipe, I used turkey breast; however, use whatever you prefer.
11. After 45 minutes, remove the stockpot from the heat and let cool slightly.
After 45 minutes. The vegetables have softened and the ground nuts have helped to thicken the sauce.
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.
Thoroughly puree the mole. Make sure the blender isn’t running when you pull it out of the hot liquid.
Bless whoever invented the immersion blender.
12. Put the mole back on the heat and add the masa roux and the chocolate.
Adding the masa roux and chocolate. They just melt right on in.
Cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the turkey and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stirring in the turkey.
13. Serve the mole with rice and corn tortillas. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.
The ultimate reward for all your hard work.