At this point Thanksgiving should be a distant memory. But if you still have some lingering turkey leftovers in your freezer, I can recommend a turkey mole poblano. The meditative process of roasting all the chiles, seeds, and nuts that go into this elaborate sauce can be an escape from the frenzy of the holiday season.
I always crave something spicy after the mild flavors of Thanksgiving fare, and we often make Mexican dishes with our turkey remains. This recipe for turkey mole poblano is from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. I also consulted Rick Bayless' recipe but wasn't quite up to all the straining involved. Instead I happily embraced the slight grittiness of the various purees (above from left to right: chocolate and corn tortillas, chiles and tomatoes, and nuts and seeds). The recipe made enough to freeze away a batch of sauce and still have plenty to drench our turkey leftovers. We dined on turkey mole tacos with a side salad of kale, roasted delicata squash, black beans, and avocado, as we started to discuss our Christmas wish lists.
Turkey Mole Poblano
adapted from The Border Cookbook
Mole sauce (makes enough for two batches)
12 ounces whole dried red chiles (a combination of anchos and pasilla)
6 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup pepitas
3 Tbsp neutral oil such as canola
4 cups stock (turkey, chicken, or vegetable)
6 garlic cloves
14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 stale corn tortillas, torn into pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Mexican)
1 tsp ground canela or other cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
shredded cooked turkey (3 cups for half of the sauce recipe)
1. Break the stems off the chiles and remove the seeds. Toast the chiles until fragrant in a large, heavy skillet, turning frequently, and transfer to a bowl. Cover with two cups of boiling water and allow to rehydrate.
2. In turn, toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, pepitas, and almonds until fragrant and transfer them to a blender. Then toast the garlic cloves until soft. When cool enough to handle, peel them and add to the blender. Add one cup of stock to the blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
3. Next add the rehydrated chiles to the blender, along with the fire roasted tomatoes, and 1 cup of the rehydration liquid from the chiles, strained through a strainer. Blend these until smooth and add them to the bowl with the nut and seed puree.
4. Add the quartered onion to the skillet and cook until slightly charred on all sides. Place these in the blender along with the corn tortilla, the chocolate, the cinnamon, and 1 cup broth. Blend until smooth and add to the bowl with the other purees.
5. Heat a deep Dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil. Spoon in the sauce and fry while stirring continuously (it will splatter) for about ten minutes. Add the remaining broth and continue to cook for about 30 minutes. Depending on how much turkey you have, at this point you could reserve a portion of the sauce to freeze for a rainy day. Add the shredded turkey and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Serve the turkey mole with warm tortillas, over rice, or bake into enchiladas. Enjoy.