Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey with Cashew-Mole Sauce

This mole sauce takes a bit of effort, but it can be made a few days ahead, on Monday, if you are making it for Thanksgiving. If you cannot eat nuts or prefer to leave them out, that's okay-mole sauce varies by each cook's personal preferences and by ingredients available regionally.

For Mole:
2 medium dried ancho chiles, seeded and membranes removed
3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 chipotles in adobo, seeded and diced
4 heads garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large ripe (black) plantain, cooked
3/4 cup dry roasted, unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3-4 squares dark chocolate
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast the dried chiles until they begin to change color, 15 seconds/side. DO NOT burn them, that will make your mole taste bitter. (If nervous about the skillet heat, my advice is to start at a lower temp and go slow, testing with 1 chile and having an extra 0n hand...chances are you would buy a bag of them anyways, and the comfort of knowing one mistake will not doom the dish is worth it, trust me!)

Tranfer toasted chiles to a large pot and add 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer. Cook about 20-25 minutes this way to rehydrate the chiles, stirring occasionally. Strain liquid and reserve. Chop chiles.

Heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in large saute pan. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally so that garlic does not burn (if browning, take pan off burner, turn heat to medium and return pan to burner 1 minute later). Cook 5-7 minutes, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let cook 15 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor along with the cooked plantains, cashews, sesame seeds, peanuts, bread, drained chipotles and spices. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and blend until smooth. Stop blending to stir occasionally and add extra chicken broth if needed to make this smooth. Press the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.

In large sauce pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add tomato-chile sauce and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes (you will probably need to turn heat to medium-low at this point). Melt chocolate squares into sauce (use 4 for a stronger chocolate flavor). Simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring regularly. If sauce thickens too much, add extra chicken broth to thin to desired consistency.

For Turkey:
1 12 lb turkey (defrost in refrigerator 2-3 of days in advance
1 cup mole
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 cups chicken stock

Remove neck/any gizzards or random parts that come with turkey. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. Spread 3/4 cup mole sauce over skin and 1/2 inside turkey cavity. Cover turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (you can do this a few hours before cooking, but who wants to get up that early?).

Arrange oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add stuffing to turkey cavity, if using. Baste turkey with a little butter and tuck wings under breasts and tie together legs if using twine. Place in large baking dish.

Roast turkey 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F, cover turkey loosely with foil, and continue roasting 45 minutes more. Remove foil, add 1/4 cup stock to pan, and continue to roast, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes, 1 1/2 hours more.

Increase oven temperature to 450°F, rotate turkey pan 180° in oven to ensure even cooking, and add 1/4 cup stock to pan.

Roast turkey, basting occasionally until a instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh (do not touch the bone!) registers 170°F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove turkey from oven and insert instant-read thermometer into middle of stuffing. If temperature does not register 170, remove stuffing from bird, place turkey back in backing dish and put stuffing in cooking dish and continue roasting until both are at the required temperature.

Let turkey rest 20-30 minutes before carving. Heat remaining mole sauce and put in a gravy dish.

Serve slices of turkey alongside mashed sweet potatoes and stuffing. Drizzle plate with mole.

Happy Eating!

Note: a stuffed 12 lb turkey will probably take 3 1/2-4 hours to cook, if not using stuffing, expect a total cooking time closer to 3 hours.


  1. I have been all about the mole lately. Great recipe.

  2. Me too! Such a complex flavor profile...seems like a bit of work, but once you have made mole once, the next times are a breeze...

  3. What a lovely mix of flavors in your mole. Yum!

  4. oh, this sounds delectable! i will have to try this!

  5. mmmmmmh. What a great recipe for leftover turkey...Yum.
    Thank you...

  6. The mole sounds fabulous. Nice touch to put it with turkey.

  7. Thanks : ) The mole is so rich you don't even miss traditional gravy/buttery complements mashed sweet potatoes perfectly and with cornbread too : )


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