Turkey in Mole Poblano

  • Serves

    serves 12-14


This recipe comes from SAVEUR contributing editor Rick Bayless. It may be called the great American bird, but turkey was first domesticated in Mexico, where, as James Beard once wrote, "it was to that country what beef is to the United States." One of our favorite preparations is a celebratory dish from the Mexican state of Puebla: a slow braise of breast meat in a deep, dark mole that's shot through with three kinds of dried chiles, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds and enriched with chocolate and spices. The spicy, sweet, savory sauce can be sopped up with hot tortillas and rice, or even crusty bread. Pairing note: California's bright and funky Peay Scallop Shelf 2007 ($60) complements the mole's richness.

What You Will Need


  • 12 dried ancho chiles
  • 12 dried guajillo chiles
  • 6 dried pasilla chiles
  • 5 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole aniseed
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 12 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 12 tsp. dried marjoram or oregano
  • 3 dried bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 (1 1/2") stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 7 14 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 12 cup skin-on almonds
  • 12 cup raw shelled peanuts
  • 13 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 13 cup raisins
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 stale corn tortillas
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
  • 1 large tomato, quartered
  • 1 (4–5-lb.) whole skin-on boneless turkey breast, split into halves
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped Mexican chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. sugar, plus more to taste
  • Tortillas and cilantro sprigs, for serving


Step 1

Stem chiles; shake seeds into a bowl. Tear chiles into pieces; set aside. Measure 4 tbsp. chile seeds (discard the rest) and 4 tbsp. sesame seeds into a small skillet set over medium heat. Toast seeds, swirling pan, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder. Toast aniseed, peppercorns, and cloves; transfer to grinder along with thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Grind into a powder and transfer to a large bowl; set spice mixture aside.

Step 2

Heat oil in an 8" skillet over medium heat. Working in small batches, add chiles and cook, turning, until toasted, about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon and reserving oil in skillet, transfer chiles to paper towels to drain. Transfer fried chiles to a large bowl; add boiling water to cover. Let chiles steep for 30 minutes. Strain chiles, reserving soaking liquid.

Step 3

Working in 3 batches, put 1⁄3 of the chiles, 1⁄4 cup soaking liquid, and 1⁄4 cup stock into a blender; purée. Set a sieve over a bowl and strain chile mixture, pushing it through sieve with a rubber spatula; discard solids. Reserve blender; set chile purée aside.

Step 4

Return skillet with oil to medium heat. Working with one ingredient at a time, fry the almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins until toasted, about 1 minute for almonds, 45 seconds for peanuts, 20 seconds for pumpkin seeds, and 15 seconds for raisins. Transfer each fried batch to paper towels to drain. Return skillet to medium heat and fry the bread, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes; transfer to paper towels. Repeat with tortillas. Break bread and tortillas into small pieces and transfer to bowl, along with the almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and ground spice mixture; set aside.

Step 5

Set a fine strainer over an 8-qt. Dutch oven. Strain all but 2 tbsp. oil from skillet into Dutch oven; set aside. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring, until brown, 10–12 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer onion mixture to bowl with spice mixture. Return skillet to medium-high heat; add tomatillos and tomatoes; cook, stirring, until soft, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with spice mixture along with 2 1⁄2 cups stock. Purée spice mixture in reserved blender. Press through the strainer into a bowl; set purée aside.

Step 6

Heat reserved Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season turkey breasts with salt. Brown each breast, turning once, for 12 minutes. Transfer turkey to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tbsp. of oil in Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add chile purée; cook, stirring, until thick, 10–12 minutes. Add spice purée, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, for 30 minutes. Stir in 4 cups stock and chocolate; simmer, partially covered and stirring often, for 1 hour. Season mole sauce with salt and sugar; remove from heat.

Step 7

Heat oven to 325°. Nestle turkey in mole sauce. Bake, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into turkey reads 150°, about 1 hour. Transfer pot to a rack; let rest 20 minutes. Slice turkey, serve with sauce, and garnish with remaining sesame seeds and cilantro; serve with tortillas.

CORRECTION: (November 17, 2010) This recipe was missing instructions on how to use the toasted almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. They should be added to the bowl with the pieces of bread, tortillas, and ground spice mixture in step four. The recipe has now been corrected.

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