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Tear The Heart Out

Passport & Plate - Turkey Breast with Mole Poblano

Mexico | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients
FOR THE TURKEY:
2kg boneless turkey breast
1 head of garlic
1 leek
1 onion
1 bay leave

FOR THE AROMATICS:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon aniseed
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

FOR THE NUTS AND SEEDS:
50gr almonds
50gr peanut
50gr shelled pepitas
30gr toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE CHILIES:
¼ cup lard
6 ancho chili, seeded
6 guajillo chili, seeded
10 pasilla chili, seeded

FOR THE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE:
1 large ripe plantain peeled and sliced
400gr of plum tomato coarsely chopped
40gr raisins
100gr Mexican Chocolate (or any other bittersweet with 90% solids)
1 teaspoon salt

TO GARNISH:
1 avocado, sliced
Cilantro leaves
Fresh tortillas to serve

Despite the long list of ingredients and the discouraging, but easy, step by step, this recipe, which uses only three equipments, will lead you to discover another level of flavors and spices.
Notes:
1. All the chilies can be replaced for similar ones. Just be aware of their spiciness to not overdo it!
2. The chili seeds can be added to a hotter sauce. I do!

Guideline:
Guajillo is considered a moderately hot chili or a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. It is a sweet, thick fleshed chile.
Ancho is considered a medium heat chili or a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 . Its flavor is somewhat sweet and somewhat raisin-like.
Pasilla is considered a hot chili or a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. It has a smoked flavor.

 

How to prepare this recipe
1. In a large pot combine the turkey breast, garlic, leek, onion and bay leave and cover with 3 liters of water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until turkey is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the breast, stock, onion and garlic.
2. Heat a skillet and add the aromatics. Slightly toast them, without burning. Transfer to a blender. In the same skillet, add the nuts and seeds, except for 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, for garnish. Toast them until change color, about 3 minutes. Add to the blender with the aromatics and blend until very smooth, using 1 cup reserved turkey stock. Transfer to the pot the turkey was cooked.
3. Heat the lard in the skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the chilies in batches until beginning to blister, about 15 seconds per side. Transfer chilies to a plate and reserve.
4. In the same skillet, add the plantain and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, the reserved onion and garlic and cook until slightly softened, mashing with fork. Reduce heat to medium-low; add raisins and simmer, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
5. Working in batches, puree chili and tomato mixture in the blender with 1 cup reserved turkey stock. Strain mixture through sieve into the pot that contains the aromatics-nut puree, pressing on solids to extract as much mixture as possible.
6. Over a high heat, cook the sauce until it boils. Low heat to a minimum and add the chocolate to the pot. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often, scraping bottom of pot and adding more turkey stock if necessary (by 1/2 cupful at a time). However, be aware that this sauce has a thick, rich consistency. Season with salt. Add the turkey breast and continue simmering over low heat until streaks of oil form on mole surface, about 10 minutes longer.
7. Slice turkey breast and place on a serving plate. Spoon mole over, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with avocado and fresh tortillas. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

 

The story behind this recipe
It was September 2008 when I received the message from my husband that we were moving to Mexico City.
We were living in London for almost 3 years now and I was used to that life, and was not so sure if I was ready to move again...
To make things smoother, my husband started to bring home some magazines, specially food magazines, so I could get familiarized with the idea of moving to an “exotic and far away country”. Well, he used to say I was spoiled for saying that, as we are Brazilians.
One night he brought home a movie called “Arrancame La Vida”. I had seen “Like water to Chocolate” before and it was one of my favorite movies. This was nothing like that. There was no food involved in the story but it was from a town in Mexico: Puebla. I instantly felt in love with it. With the movie, with the story, with Mexico... And, the best was still to come.
By November 2008, we were already living in Mexico and to make me more comfortable and willing to have a great life there, my husband made the most wonderful surprise he could ever made to settle me. We travelled to Puebla, the beautiful small town where the movie was shot.
Arriving at the Zocalo, the central square, took me back the felling once I had when I first though about living in Mexico. In addition, I realized how wrong I was. The beauty of that town, the colorful paper flags flying with the afternoon breeze, the mixture of Spanish and Aztec culture in the architecture and in the faces of those happy people is something that I will never forget. The song “Cielito Lindo” still echoes in my ears and take me back...
Nevertheless, the most unforgettable thing that transformed my days in Mexico and I would risk to say, my entire culinary life was the Mole Poblano I ate that night. The complexity of flavors made me eager to learn and cook that dish. I must say I have not mastered it, but my version, adapted from Diana Kennedy, is an excellent way to remember and honor one of the most wonderful years of my life!

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