Turkey in Red Mole Sauce… abridged

You can find the original recipe to this delicious mole¬†on Rick Bayless’ site¬†or, as I did, on this cookbook. The full version of the recipe includes all the peppers that need to be roasted, rehydrated and blended. I took a shortcut here. Instead of using the various peppers (chiles), I went for a prepared, store-bought mole under the assumption that it would include said peppers. I know. There are a few Mexican grandmothers turning in their graves as I type this. My only hope is that they don’t read English and maybe won’t understand the extent of my trespass. Move on.

I suppose my shortcut doesn’t allow me to judge the true tastes of the original recipe, but I can tell you that shortcut or no, this recipe rocks! This stuff is so delicious, I considered bathing in it. OK, I know you don’t need that graphic ingrained to your brain. My bad. Anyway, this would be awesome on chicken, pork, seafood, coffee, cookies, eh er…

Turkey in Red Mole Sauce (adapted from Mexico – One Plate at a Time)
makes about 10-12 cups of sauce

5 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/2 cp  sesame seeds
1/2 cp rich pork lard or vegetable oil (I used bacon fat)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cp unskinned almonds
1/2 cp raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon, (use ground Mexican canela if available)
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp anise
1/8 tsp cloves
1 cp pre-packaged mole sauce
1 slice firm white bread, darkly toasted and broken into several pieces
1 oz (about 1/3 of a 3.3-ounce tablet) Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped
Salt
4 – 5 tbsp sugar
4 turkey thighs with skin & bones (approx 4lbs)

And now, for the steps:

Roast the tomatillos under a very hot broiler until splotchy black and thoroughly soft, about 5 minutes per side.  Scrape into a large bowl.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring nearly constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes.  Scrape half of them in with the tomatillos.  Reserve the remainder for sprinkling on the turkey.

In a heavy-bottom pot or dutch over or Mexican cazuela, if you have one of those, heat the bacon fat over medium heat and fry the garlic and almonds, stirring regularly, until browned (the garlic should be soft), about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove to the tomatillo bowl, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot.

Add the raisins to the hot pot.  Stir for 20 or 30 seconds, until they’ve puffed and browned slightly.  Scoop them out, draining as much fat as possible back into the pot, and add to the tomatillos. Set the pan aside off the heat.

To the tomatillo mixture, add the cinnamon, black pepper, anise, cloves, bread, mole sauce and chocolate.  Add 2 cups water and stir to combine.

In two batches, blend the tomatillo mixture as smoothly as possible (you may need an extra 1/2 cup water to keep everything moving through the blades), then strain it  into a bowl and set aside.

If you’re using uncooked turkey, this is when you will season the turkey with salt & pepper. Raise the temperature on the pan to medium-high and brown the thighs on all sides, this will take about 10 minutes. If you make the mole sauce ahead, you can move on to braising the thighs in the sauce. If you are still working on the sauce, go ahead and put the turkey in the fridge while the sauce gets ready.

Pour out any excess fat, you only need enough to leave a film on the bottom of the pan.¬†¬†Add the blended tomatillo¬†mixture and cook, stirring every few minutes until considerably darker and thicker, 15 to 20 minutes. You’re looking for the sauce to become the consistency of tomato paste.¬†A word to the wise, use a spatter screen, this mole business is very spitty.

Add 6 cups of water to the pot and briskly simmer the mixture over medium to medium-low heat for 45 minutes for all the flavors to come together and mellow. If the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little water.  Taste and season with salt and sugar.

Heat the oven¬†to 325¬į. Lay the turkey in the mole, cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven. Cook until the thighs internal temperature registers 150, this will take about 40-55 minutes. Remove the turkey from the sauce and allow it to rest for a few minutes. Serve with generous amounts of mole sauce.

Check out the green mole here and for the rest of the mole porn shots, click here.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

The tale of two moles

I’ve never made mole before. Not really. I wanted to share these recipes with you so you’d have something to work with for Turkey’s Day After. It’s impossible to avoid having 100 lbs of leftover turkey and you can only eat so many sandwiches.

Let me try to describe the flavors of these dishes to you and do them justice. I’ll start by saying they’re¬†similar¬†in the complexity of¬†flavors, at once surprising and familiar. Yet, they’re also ¬†in perfect contrast to each other.

Red mole¬†seemed to have an inherent¬†nuttiness that reminded me¬†of peanut butter and the slightly bitter sweetness of chocolate. There’s smokiness that makes you wonder if this is a sauce that was developed from an old roux. It is rich and spicy, not in term of heat but flavor. Yet, it doesn’t taste like 5 different spices, they’re not individually identifiable, but you can tell they’ve come together to bring out the best in each other.

On the other hand, the pipi√°n sauce or green mole¬†tasted light and vibrant, with a nice pungent bite. The lightness of it seeming to fight against the creaminess of the sauce. I’m not sure how to explain it, other than to say it tasted as though we were eating something rich and decadent, while knowing nothing heavy or rich was added.

I’m not going to lie and say these are easy recipes, but they were not too difficult either. Scratch that. They’re not difficult at all, what they are is involved. Lots of steps, which is why I cheated a bit. We have 2 versions of the traditional Mexican sauce: Turkey in Mole Rojo and Turkey in Pipi√°n Verde (green mole).

These recipes come from Bayless’ cookbook, Mexico – One Plate At A Time, and you’ll notice there is at least one other post in the last few days that was inspired by the book. Check out the Green Beans & Carrots in Escabeche. They are incredibly delicious.

A couple of side notes:

  1. The website recipe is for a very large batch, it’s actually doubled the one in the book. I don’t think you’re feeding a¬†small army, so I’m offering the book version. I had enough sauce to save about 4-6 cps for later use.
  2. Bayless calls for a whole boneless turkey breast (uncooked). Since I’m not a breast fan, I went with thighs and kept the bones in the mix.
  3. If you are making this with leftover turkey, simply add the cooked meat once the sauce has reduced.
  4. I have an old, kick-ass blender that can puree almost anything to a pulp. This is to say I skipped the straining part, you may need to strain it if your blender doesn’t do as well and/or if you have issues with tidbits of sesame seeds.
  5. Use an oven-safe pan or dutch oven. You will cook on the stove and finish it in the oven.

Are you ready for this? Check out the recipe posts, Turkey in Red Mole and Turkey in Pumpkin Seed Sauce.

Thanksgiving dinner: The Dessert

Sopa de Gloria is one of the desserts you will find at every significant event/celebration in Panama. Sopa de Gloria would loosely translate to ‘Glorious Soup’, it is a rum-y, creamy trifle. My mom would make the syrup with raisins and prunes and would then add port wine, dark and light rum. As far as¬†the cream goes, it usually includes ground almonds, which makes the flavors all the more delicate.

I took the basic Sopa de Gloria and tweaked it with the flavors of Thanksgiving by omitting the almonds and adding pumpkin puree and seeds. The results… Phenomenal! This is the Jimmy Choo of desserts! The syrup and cream both benefit from being made at least one day in advance. This dessert is best served cold.

Pumpkin Sopa de Gloria
8-10 servings

For the raisin syrup:
1 cp sugar
1-1/2 cps water
2-3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2/3 cp raisins
1/2 cp dark rum (Myer’s is great)

Combine all the ingredients except the raisins in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil for about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and continue to simmer until the raisins are plump. Turn off the heat and add the rum. Allow it cool and keep at room temperature.

For the pumpkin cream:
1/2 can condensed milk (7 ozs)
1 can evaporated milk (14 ozs)
1-1/4 cp pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp mace
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cp dark rum or bourbon

In a small pan, combine the condensed and evaporated milks, heat them over medium temperature until you begin to see bubbles around the edges. Do stir frequently, to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, mace and vanilla, simmer at medium-low for another 10 minutes, again, stirring continuously. Allow it to cool and refrigerate.

In addition to the above, you will need about 1/2 cp of toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds, as well as a sponge cake, you can find an easy recipe here.

Put it together:
I made individual triffles, but usually this is served in one large punch bowl, you can’t go wrong either way. Start with a layer of cubed sponge cake, followed by a drizzle of the syrup and raisins, then topped with cream that is topped with pumpkin seeds. Repeat. And serve cold.

Check out this post to see the rest of this meal or click here for the photostream.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Thanksgiving Dinner: The side

I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t look like dressing and you’d be right. I was going for a non-traditional dressing-like dressing and this is what I came up with. Looks good, no? Let me tell you, it tastes better than it looks, seriously. I don’t know that I would call this a deconstructed dressing, but it does have all the elements of a dressing presented individually.

In Panama we eat corn tortillas for breakfast, they’re usually served with some sort of saucy protein. As you can see, our tortillas are different from what most people think of when they hear the word.¬† Ours are made with yellow corn, not white and they’re thick, about 1/2-inch. These discs are then deep-fried until crisp on the outside while they remain nice¬†and creamy inside.

So, with that idea in mind, I set off looking for¬† a way to imitate¬†my tortillas, but I didn’t want to¬†find dry corn, cook it, grind it, shape it, etcetera, etcetera. Instead, I used polenta that I cooked in about 6 minutes then cooled and cut into discs.¬†Frying them just before serving, provided a much needed¬†textural contrast. Beware, polenta is feisty when being fried, because of the water content, it is very spitty!

For the topping my mind went straight to picadillo, the kind we make in Panama with olives and raisins. Instead of ground beef, I went for a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient: breakfast sausage. And I cooked fatty bacon to a crisp to have a similar texture to chicharrón. And, just like that, Polenta Tortillas with Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo was born!

Polenta Tortillas with Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo
serves 8-10

For the Polenta Tortillas:
5-6 cps water
1-1/2 cps dry polenta or coarse cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 ear of corn, shucked
1/2 cp queso fresco, shredded
Extra virgin olive oil for the pan and frying

Grease a 9×13 pan with olive oil and set aside. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the salt then whisk in the polenta. You’ll want to whisk briskly until the grounds have incorporated. You will continue to cook it over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, corn and cheese.

Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Allow it to cool and set. You can make this ahead of time. When ready to serve, unmold the polenta and cut into squares or with a round biscuit cutter or a glass.

Heat some butter and oil in a frying pan, and fry the polenta disks until golden brown on each side. Set on paper towels to catch the excess fat. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Sausage & Chicharrón Picadillo:
1 cp fatty bacon, diced
1 cp breakfast sausage (about 1/2 of a Jimmy Dean package)
1 cp red onion, diced
1/2 cp carrots, diced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cp Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cp ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsps ketchup
1/4 cp green olives, finely chopped
1/2 cp seedless raisins

Cook the bacon until golden and crisp, remove from the pan and pour out the excess fat, reserve. In the same pan, crumble the sausage and cook for a few minutes until it isn’t red anymore.

Add the red onion and carrots and cook until the onions have softened, then add the tomato, green onions, parsley, olives and ketchup, stir all the ingredients and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and also about 1/4 cp of water, stir and allow to simmer covered for another 5 minutes or so. Keep warm.

To assemble the dish: place the fried polenta at the bottom, top with 1 tablespoon of picadillo, and top that with a bit of the bacon chicharron.

For the rest of this meal, follow the link and visit the photostream for all the shots.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

NOT your usual Carne Guisada

A guiso¬†is one of those universal, one-pot dishes that exists¬†in every cuisine/culture I can think of. Stew, cassoulet, kho, cocido, caldeirada, goulash–whatever the name and the main ingredient, it is a hearty soupy¬†dish, slowly braised until the various ingredients are incredibly tender. There’s usually a meat/protein involved, though not always, as is the case in ratatouille. Stews or guisos will usually have a beef base, but lamb, chicken and seafood are common ingredients depending on the culture.

In this case, I decided to switch up my usual beef version or carne guisada and opted for lamb instead. I was at Phoenicia Market, my local grocer for all things Middle Eastern, when I spotted some beautiful lamb roasts. They were calling my name. I swear it! I could hear them say ‘Anamaris! Cook me. Eat me. Love me.’ And being the softy that I am, I did.

Instead of using the customary spices that accompany lamb, I went for my Latin roots. I introduced that roast to achiote, comino and habanero paste. The end result was delicioso. A rich, gamey, earthy and vibrant dish that seemed to waltz around our little kitchen as the aroma wafted around the room. As a good Panamanian, I served it with white rice and beans. The rice was the perfect backdrop to the saucy lamb, allowing us to savor the flavors from the guiso even without a bite of lamb.

This is not to say that the rice was boring, remember my feelings on that subject. I’m just saying that the rice was a perfect partner for the very flavorful and soulful lamb guiso. And check out the beans too, I made it my mission to combine ingredients that don’t always meet each other. Guess what? It worked!

Lamb Guisado (Cordero Guisado)

3 lbs boneless lamb roast (shoulder or leg), cubed
Achiote (annatto seeds)
Vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic, crushed
2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Jugo Maggi or Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cumin powder
1-1/2 cps broth or beer
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper (or green), chopped
2 – 3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cp cilantro, finely chopped
5-6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large carrot, cubed
1/2-1 tsp habanero paste

Achiote¬†or annatto seeds are common in Latin-Caribbean cooking. It is the poor man’s saffron, used to infuse a similar color to dishes. It has a sweet peppery scent and taste, earthy; quite unique. To render its flavors and colors, we warm vegetable oil and add the seeds, then allow it to steep for a few minutes. In Panama, you’ll find a little bottle with this oil, seeds and all, sitting next to the stove. Every so often, it gets topped off with more oil until the seeds stop coloring it. Then you start over again.

You can make enough achiote oil for this recipe (about 3 tbsp vegetable oil + 1 tbsp achiote seeds) or a big batch as I do (about 1 cp oil to 1/4 cp seeds), or you can skip this altogether and just use plain or extra virgin oil.

After you’ve cubed the lamb, season it with 1 tbsp achiote oil, salt, pepper, garlic, Jugo Maggi, and cumin. Mix it all in and set aside while you get the veggies and aromatics ready.

Add the rest of the achiote oil to a large pan, preferably one with a fitting lid, and get it hot enough to sear to cubes of lamb. Brown the lamb in batches, trying not to crowd the pan so that you sear and not steam the meat. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Next, you will sweat the aromatics–add the onions, bell pepper and cook until the onions have soften and are translucent. Add the tomatoes after a few minutes, stir them in before adding the mint and cilantro.

Deglaze the pan with the broth or beer, use a wooden spoon to scrape off all the yummy bits that have gotten stuck to the bottom of that pan. This will not only enhance the flavor of the dish (so long as it isn’t burnt), but it will add an incredible depth of color to it.

Stir the lamb back in, then add the habanero paste, potatoes and carrots. Reduce the heat so that it simmers slowly. Allow it to cook covered for about 45 minutes or until the lamb is very tender. If the juices seem too runny at this time, remove the lid and allow it to cook down for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice and beans.

That’s one happy little lamb!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris