Mole poblano is one of the more mysterious, yet treasured recipes in Mexico. The word mole in the indigenous Mexican language of Nahuatl simply means “sauce. There are infinite variations of mole throughout Mexico. However, mole poblano is what many people outside of Mexico consider the classic mole.
The Classic Mexican Mole Sauce
It is presumed that mole poblano was developed in a convent in Puebla, Mexico. As the story goes, the nuns of Spanish descent incorporated European ingredients – such as sesame seeds, cinnamon and cloves, with traditional native ingredients, such as chocolate, chiles and peanuts, to develop this unique sauce. Some say that it was a happy kitchen accident, thrown together quickly by the nuns to impress a visiting viceroy. However, if you study the recipe, you can see that the development took patience. The wisely crafeted balance of flavors that make it very special.
One of my sons loves mole poblano, so I try to make up a batch everytime he comes home. I claim to make it for him, but frankly I am serving myself double portions. Mole poblano is amazing with turkey or chicken, but I prefer turkey. The stronger, gamier flavor of turkey can really stand up to the complicated flavors of the mole.
Helpful Hints for Making Mole Poblano
A couple of helpful hints:
You will need your biggest pots and serving dishes for mole. It’s a party dish, and small saucepans will be immediately overwhelmed. Also, like tamales, there are no small recipes for home made mole poblano.
Also, mole poblano can very easily scorch. I gently simmer it over a low flame for a short period of time. My routine is that I cool it down, and then store it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Once I add the cooked turkey pieces to the sauce, the mole poblano has fully ripened in flavor, and only needs to be simmered.
A most importantly, make sure you have an excellent quality blender, such as a Vitamix. Food processors or cheap blenders will not give you good results.Print
Mole Poblano con Pavo (Turkey with Mole Poblano Sauce)
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 90 min
- Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 24 servings 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stew
- Cuisine: Mexican
3 chile chipotle, dried or canned
1/2 lb. chile ancho (250g)
1/2 lb. chile pasilla (250g)
1 lb. tomatoes (500 gr)
1 cup vegetable oil (240ml)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large plantain, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/4 lb. raw peanuts (125g)
1/4 lb. blanched almonds (125g)
1/4 lb. sesame seeds (125g)
5 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
1 tsp. anise seed (2g)
1 tsp. coriander seed (2g)
1 tbsp. salt (12g)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (30ml)
3 corn tortillas, toasted on a griddle until crisp
2 tbsp. sugar (25g)
1/4 cup raisins (37g)
1/2 cup pitted dried prunes (60g)
2 qt. chicken broth (2 lt)
To assemble the turkey with mole sauce:
1 10-15 lb fresh uncooked turkey, completely thawed (4.5kg-7kg)
2 onions, peeled
1 head garlic
Salt to taste
1 cup vegetable oil (240ml)
1–2 qts turkey broth (1lt-2lt)
8 oz Mexican chocolate (250g)
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup sesame seeds for garnish (70g)
Place all chiles and tomatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain water, peel the tomatoes and remove seeds. Remove the stems from the chiles, and remove the seeds. Rinse if necessary. Place the chiles and tomatoes in a very large bowl, and set aside.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to a large skillet. Fry onions and garlic until translucent. Remove garlic and onions from the oil, and add to the large bowl with chiles.
In the same oil and skillet, fry the slices of
plantain until golden on both sides. Remove slices to the large bowl.
Add the2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the peanuts, almonds, and sesame seeds, and gently fry over low heat until slightly browned. Pour entire content of skillet into the large bowl with the chiles and tomatoes.
In a molcajete, mortar or spice grinder, grind the whole cloves, peppercorns, anise, coriander seeds and salt into a fine powder. In a small, clean skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add the ground spices, and fry lightly for 10 seconds. Pour spices and vegetable oil into the large bowl.
Crumble the toasted tortillas and add to the large bowl, along with the raisins, prunes, and sugar. In a large stock pot, the remaining vegetable oil and heat.
The sauce now needs to be blended until smooth: Fill a blender container half full of the mixture in the large bowl. Add enough of the chicken stock to facilitate blending, and blend until you have a smooth sauce, with no visible particles. Pour the sauce into the stock pot with the heated vegetable oil. Continue processing the contents of the bowl with the chicken broth in this fashion until the entire contents of the bowl have been utilized and turned into the mole sauce. Add the chocolate and cinnamon stick to the stock pot. Simmer the sauce over very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes to make sure it does not scorch. Remove the mole from the heat and allow to cool completely.
At this stage, the mole is in concentrated form, and can be stored in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen until you are ready to use. If you opt to freeze the mole, do not freeze for more than 30 days, and thaw completely before preparing to combine it with the cooked turkey meat.
When you are ready to serve your mole, you will first need to cook the turkey by boiling it whole. * Place a peeled, quartered onion in the stock pot, and one peeled clove of garlic. Boil the turkey until it is cooked, about 1 hour. Salt to taste. Once it is fully cooked, allow the turkey and broth to cool. Remove turkey meat from bones, cutting the meat in large chunks. You can opt to leave the wings and drumsticks on the bones.
When ready to combine the mole and the cooked turkey, place the concentrated mole in a large Dutch oven or extra-large skillet (Use a mole pot if you have one.) Add approximately 2 cups (480ml) to dilute the concentrated mole. You can add more or less broth, according to your taste. Add the turkey pieces, and cover the mole. Stir a few times to turn the meat in the sauce. Heat well over low flame, being careful that the sauce does not scorch. Just before serving, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.
*Boiling a while turkey can be a chore, especially if you don’t have a huge stock pot. You can simply oven roast the turkey as well, but it takes longer, and could be dry once it cooks. Also, you would miss out on diluting your mole sauce with the lovely turkey broth you create when you boil it. Store bought chicken broth can always be substituted for turkey broth if you choose to oven roast the turkey. It is your choice, but as I have a ridiculous arsenal of cooking pots, I always boil my turkey when I make mole poblano. You may think that it would take longer than an hour to boil a turkey, but remember you will be cutting up the turkey, and simmering the pieces in the mole sauce. If you feel your turkey is at all undercooked after the boiling stage (mine always cooks completely), the simmering stage will finish the cooking process.