Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turkey Mole

That's pronounced "moe-lay." It's not the small burrowing mammal.

I've got a fair number of new recipes to write up, but I've told myself I can't do any blog writing unless I finish my academic writing. I'm taking two classes right now in an attempt to finish my Master's degree in May. But I finished a paper this weekend and won't start on the next one until tomorrow, so this evening I can record this for posterity. It's going to become a standard for us.

It's incredible how cheap turkeys get this time of year. It's practically criminal not to take advantage of some of the Thanksgiving sales. But there's only so many turkeys you can roast before you get sick of turkey. I can't make turkey more than 2 or 3 times a year without getting tired of the taste. Solution? Cook turkey meat so it doesn't taste like turkey.

We thawed our frozen bird and this afternoon I broke it down. Legs, thighs, and wings come off, skin comes off, breasts come off, and the rest goes in the pot for stock.

I used the turkey skin and breasts to make Kenji's Turkey Porchetta. It's curing in the fridge; we'll know tomorrow night how it turned out. I think I'm going to braise the drumsticks and wings because braising helps break down the large amounts of connective tissue found in the legs of a large turkey. Right now I'm leaning towards Martha's recipe but we'll see how it plays out.

But my favorite part of the turkey is the thigh.  It's the best meat on the bird, and it's easy (especially before you cook it) to make it boneless. I'll have plenty of dark meat over the next week, though. Today's mission: find a way to cook the thighs that doesn't taste like turkey. Solution: Mexican food. This isn't a true mole sauce (the authentic ones are way too much work), but it's a good 80% solution in maybe 5% of the time.  Call it a faux-lay instead of a moe-lay. Faule? Fole?

We're going to quickly brown the turkey, then braise it in a simple sauce made from tomatoes and chicken stock. It'll cook covered for 30-45 minutes, then it's ready to serve. Bulletproof.

Bulletproof Turkey Mole


  • 2 turkey thighs
  • Oil to coat skillet
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I spent 97 cents and bought Great Value Fire Roasted Salsa-Style Seasoned Diced Tomatoes)
  • Spices may vary based on your own preferences and what you have available, but I used (measurements approximate):
    • 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, diced small
    • 1 T taco seasoning
    • 1 t cajun seasoning
    • 1 t cumin
    • 1/2 C brine from jar of pickled jalapenos
  • Taco fixings (tortillas, cheese, rice, black beans, sour cream, salsa, fresh chopped tomatoes, etc).
  1. Take the skin off the turkey thighs and remove the thighbone. Cut in half so there are four pieces.
  2. Rough chop the onion, smash and mince the garlic.
  3. Set large skillet on high heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom.
  4. Once oil is hot, place turkey in skillet for about a minute. Add onions and garlic. Flip turkey and let sit for about a minute.
  5. Remove turkey and add chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Use a metal spatula or spoon to get all the crusty bits off the pan and into the sauce you're creating. 
  6. Pour in diced tomatoes, stir, then add remaining ingredients.
  7. Add turkey back to skillet. Ladle some of the sauce over the turkey, then turn heat down to medium and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. It really could go for longer or shorter, depending on your own needs. The longer you have, the lower you should set the heat. Once time is up, pull the turkey apart with a pair of forks but leave the meat in the sauce until it's time to serve.
This made a really satisfying taco meal with plenty of leftovers to spare. Best part? It doesn't taste like turkey. Not even a little bit.