Recipe by Jim McGrody, Director of Food and Nutrition at Rex Hospital. Photo by Jason Hamner.
Cary, NC – Last time I wrote for CaryCitizen I believe I was sitting by the pool smoking a beef brisket or some other type of meat.
Well, the pool is closed up, the smoker is put away and the holidays are coming way too fast.
I wanted to come up with a holiday recipe to share and I thought about all the turkeys, beef wellingtons, carved prime rib, beef tenderloins, stuffed pork loins that I had cooked over the years. They all seemed so boring and uneventful.
The best meal I had ever had on a holiday, my answer was Turkey Mole – (pronounced Mo-Lay). Of all the food that I ever had or cooked on the holidays, this was by far my most memorable meal.
In the late 90’s I was living in northern Arizona. On my first Christmas there I was invited to a friend’s house for a Christmas Eve dinner. My friend’s wife was from Mexico and was an incredible cook. She had prepared turkey mole.
I had never had turkey mole before and I was intrigued by the concept, especially when I found out that it had chocolate in it. We sat down and began to eat and the very first bite that I tasted changed my life forever. This may sound corny but it is true. The incredible flavors that this dish had were truly memorable. I had never tasted such depths of flavor before. The chilis, nuts, raisins, chocolate and seeds that go in this sauce form an amazing symphony of flavors. Since that day I was hooked to the flavors of México and learned that there is more to life the a traditional roast turkey.
Please try this dish and hopefully you will have the same experience that I did.
P.S. – you can buy mole in the store but be adventurous and make your own. It is fun and rewarding. You will need a spice grinder and a blender!
For the Mole Sauce
2 Ancho chilis
2 Guajillo Chilis
2 dried Chipotle chilis or in Adobo if you can’t find them dried
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup whole almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
4 sprigs thyme
1 Mexican cinnamon stick
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
1 T Mexican oregano
4 T olive oil
2 whole onions, rough chopped
2 Serrano chilis, stemmed and seeded
2 oz bittersweet Mexican chocolate
1. Cut chilis in large pieces (removes seeds and stems) and toast them on a dry (no oil) hot skillet until skin blisters. Put them in a small bowl and add the raisins. Cover with hot water. Let them softened for 30 minutes.
2. In the same skillet add the almonds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, oregano and thyme. Toast for 3-4 minutes until you can smell the aromas and the seeds begin to brown remove and slightly cool. Place seeds in spice grinder and grind until a smooth powder.
3. Once again in same skillet add olive oil, onions, garlic and Serranos, cook until brown then add tomatoes. Place all in blender and puree, add ground nut mixture. Place in sauce pan then add stock.
4. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring frequently then add chocolate to dissolve.
For the Turkey
1 bone-in turkey breast
Salt and pepper
Bone turkey breast (save bones for turkey stock).
Season turkey breast with salt and pepper. Sear turkey on both sides until a good color forms. Place in shallow baking pan and pour mole sauce over turkey allowing sauce to come ½ way up breast. Cook in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. You should baste the turkey as it cooks with sauce to keep moist.
Remove breast and slice. Pour mole sauce over turkey and serve.
Garnish with queso fresco and cilantro.