Turkey Mole – the Perfect Use of Leftover Turkey!

Turkey Mole – the Perfect Use of Leftover Turkey!

If you have a bunch of leftover turkey, make turkey mole – the perfect use of leftover turkey! It has a completely different flavor profile from Thanksgiving dinner, but will help you use up that wonderful meat. If you’re not familiar with mole, it’s a Mexican sauce. There are many, many different types of mole, but each generally contains a combination of fruit, chile pepper and nuts. I’m personally a huge fan of Rick Bayless, who is one of the most accomplished chef’s in popularizing Mexican cooking in America. His Oaxacan black mole is part of what has made his restaurant, Topolobampo, so famous. But it takes a very long time to make (2 days is about right), and has 28 ingredients! So this is a streamlined version that you can make in about 4 hours. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

I like to serve mole with fluffy white rice, tortillas and plenty of sauce. This recipe would also be excellent with chicken, so feel free to substitute.

You will need about 6 cups of broth, ideally turkey stock. If you have made turkey stock from your carcass, great. If not, feel free to either make your own, purchase turkey stock from your butcher, or substitute chicken broth. To make your own:

Place about 4 lb of turkey thighs in a pot with 1 quartered yellow onion, 2 stalks of celery cut into 2″ pieces, 1 large carrot cut into 2″ pieces, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves lightly smashed, 8-10 black pepper corns, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 whole cloves, and a handlful of cilantro sprigs. Cover with water by about 1″, then simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour. Reserve the turkey thighs as your meat for the dinner, and strain the broth (discarding the vegetables and spices). You should have about 6 cups of broth. If you have more, reduce a bit by simmering until you have 6 cups. If you have less, add a little chicken broth or water to make 6 cups.

For the mole:

2/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
4 peeled garlic cloves
1/2 (about 2 oz) unskinned almonds
1/2 cup raisins
6 oz of dried red chiles (I used a mixture of New Mexican, Ancho and Pasilla), stemmed and seeded
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground anise
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 large slice of firm white bread, darkly toasted (almost burned), broken into several pieces
1 oz of Mexican or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
6 cups turkey stock
salt to taste
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)

In a dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring very frequently. Remove immediately from heat, and put half in a large bowl, put the remainder in a small bowl to use as garnish on the final dish. Next, put a small amount of vegetable oil in the skillet, and heat over medium-high. Toast the almonds until showing brown spots, about 5 minutes. Add to the large bowl with the sesame seeds. Saute the raisins in the same skillet about 30 seconds, until plump and slightly browned. Add to the same large bowl. Now briefly brown the chiles in a single layer at a time in the hot skillet, about 30 seconds a side (don’t burn them or they’ll produce a bitter flavor). As they’re browned slightly, put the chiles in a new, empty large bowl. When done browning all of them, cover with boiling or very hot tap water, and let rehydrate for 30 minutes.

Put the tomatillos and garlic cloves on a rimmed baking sheet and put directly under the broiler element in the oven. Broil until both the tomatillos and the garlic show black splotches, about 4 minutes per side. When done, scrape all of it into the bowl with the sesame seeds, almonds and raisins. Add the cinnamon, pepper, anise, cloves, bread and chocolate.

Once the chiles are rehydrated, place about half of the chiles in a blender with half the soaking liquid and puree until smooth. Press through a medium mesh strainer into a large bowl or measuring cup. Repeat with the remaining chiles and soaking liquid. In the empty blender, blend the tomatillo mixture with about 1 cup of the reserved turkey (or chicken) stock. Puree until smooth (it should be very thick).

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil over medium heat. When hot, add the chile puree. Stir frequently, and cook at a simmer until it has darkened and reduced to the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes. Add the tomatillo mixture to the pot, and cook stirring every few minutes until much darker and thicker, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining turkey (or chicken) stock and simmer over medium low heat for about 2 hours, allowing the flavors to meld. taste and season with salt and sugar. Your mole sauce is done at this point.  Add the reserved turkey thighs, leftover turkey meat or chicken, torn into large chunks and warm until heated through.

Serve over white rice, sprinkled with the remaining sesame seeds, with corn tortillas on the side.

Bon appetit!

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