Medianoche & midnight turkey cravings

Wondering whatever you will do with all that leftover turkey? I know I am! I mean, as much as I enjoy the whole¬†meal, I get tired of the original spread after a day of leftovers. I know lots of people enjoy making their leftover turkey into sandwiches, I’m not a big sandwich fan. Can’t tell you why, just not a fan. However, every now and then… something happens and I want one.

Medianoche¬†literally means midnight in Spanish and that is the name given to this Cuban specialty. They say these came about as a snack offered to night club patrons in the wee hours of partying. I totally understand that. When I’m out late drinking and dancing (not that it has happened in a while), a need a little nibble of something. And, believe me, when you’re on the sofa watching a good movie later on, you’ll be so glad to see this beauty toasting up.

No recipe again, just the ingredients. I should mention that the Medianoche¬†is pretty much the same thing as a Cuban sandwich, except for the type of bread used. If you have a bread that¬†is eggy¬†and slightly sweet, you’ll end up with a Medianoche. On the other hand, if you only have something like a baguette, it’ll be a Cuban sandwich. I used Hawaiian sweet rolls in lieu of a brioche, which aren’t readily available in Houston. The ham is a Boars Head Sweet ham, it wasn’t as sweet as the honey-roasted and worked beautifully. As for cheese, I went with a full-blood Swiss, I wanted to taste it in the sandwich.

Medianoche Sandwich

Turkey slices, thick slices
Sweet ham
Swiss cheese

Butter the bread slices, then layer with cheese, turkey, ham, pickles, and top with cheese. Put the other half on top.

If, like me, you don’t have a Panini press, add a bit of butter to a skillet and heat over medium low temperature. Place the layered sandwich in the skillet, then press down with another pan, weighing it down, if necessary.

Allow the sandwich to toast for about 3 minutes per side. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or you’ll end up with burnt toast.

Slice the sandwich in half diagonally before serving. For more shots, follow the link to the photostream.

Cookingly yours,


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
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,

Pavo en Pipian Verde (Turkey in Pumpkin Seed Sauce-green mole)

This is the fresh mole, that’s what I’m calling it because of A tangy, tomatillo-based sauce, thickened with toasted pumpkin seeds, it‚Äôs served with everything from chicken to fish and seafood.

Again, the recipe is based on Rick Bayless’ book, Mexico-One Plate at a Time, I only substituted turkey for chicken. The recipe is pretty straightforward, though there are a few steps to follow. As with the recipe for red mole, you can substitute uncooked turkey with your cooked leftovers. Simply prepare the sauce to completion, then add the cooked meat to heat through.

Pavo en Pipi√°n Verde

1 turkey breast or 4 thighs (about 4lbs)
1 small white onion, sliced, divided use
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved, divided use
1/2 tsp each dried marjoram and thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt to taste
1-1/4 cps hulled, untoasted pumpkin seeds
5-6 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 large romaine lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
2 serranos or 1 jalape√Īo, stemmed, roughly chopped
Leaves from a small sprig of epazote, plus an additional sprig for garnish
1/2 cp loosely packed chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
2 medium chayotes
2 medium zucchini

Poach the turkey: In a stock pan, add 10 cups water, half onion, 2 garlic cloves, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and about 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to boil. Add the turkey, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20 minutes. Cover pot and let stand off heat for another 30 minutes. Remove turkey from pot. Strain broth and skim off fat that rises to top (can be done 1 day ahead).

Prepare sauce: In a saucepan, Dutch oven or cazuela (a traditional Mexican earthenware casserole with a lid), dry-toast pumpkin seeds. Set pot over medium heat, add the seeds and, when the first seed pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Don’t let them darken past golden or the sauce will be brownish and slightly bitter. Cool. Set aside 3 tablespoons for garnish and transfer rest to blender.

Add remaining onion and garlic to blender, along with tomatillos, lettuce, chiles, epazote leaves and chopped cilantro. Pour in 1 cup of strained broth; cover and blend to smooth puree (can be done 1 day ahead).

In In the same pot you toasted the seeds, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot enough to make a drop of puree sizzle sharply, add it all at once. Stir as mixture darkens slightly and thickens considerably, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 more cups broth, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes for flavors to mellow and sauce to thicken to medium consistency (it should coat spoon). Be careful, this is another spitty sauce.

While sauce is simmering, prepare the veggies. Peel the chayote and remove the seed. You may want to do this under running water as chayote has a sap that will stick to your hands and make them turn black. Cube the chayote after peeled, then blanch the vegetables in salted boiling water, cooking chayote about 3 minutes, then adding zucchini for 1 minute. Drain and spread vegetables on plate to stop cooking.

When sauce has simmered 20 minutes, it will likely look coarse. Smooth it to a velvety texture by reblending it in small batches (loosely covered to avoid blender explosions). Return sauce to pan, taste and season with salt, if needed, about 3/4 teaspoon. If sauce has thickened beyond a light cream-sauce consistency, thin it with a little remaining broth.

Remove skin from cooked turkey, if desired, cube and slip into sauce, then add cooked vegetables. Simmer over medium heat just long enough to heat everything, about 5 minutes, then spoon turkey, vegetables and sauce out onto warm serving platter. Sprinkle with reserved pumpkin seeds (you may want to crush them), decorate with sprigs of epazote and cilantro.

For the full mole action, check out the photostream.

Cookingly yours,

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 Guest of Honor

Oh yeah. It’s time to talk about the bird. And this is a very special friend. This has to be my best turkey to date. I’m sorry to gloat, but this turned out perfectly. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a firm believer in brining turkey. It keeps it moist and juicy and adds a lot of flavor while cooking.

Different from what I’ve done before, I rubbed in an herbed butter before roasting this bird. And since I was going for that Latin flavor, I added achiote paste too. Let me tell you how this all came together.

Achiote & Herbs Turkey with Garlic Butter Gravy

First, the brine. I added a large onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, celery, Jugo Maggi, salt, sugar and some spices to a large pot of water and brought it to a boil. Allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes, to infuse the flavors in the water. I then allowed that to cool completely before pouring it into a cooler. Followed by the turkey (giblets removed), then filled with cool water and topped it with plenty of ice to keep it cold overnight.

If you go back a few months, you’ll remember a post I shared for roast chicken, I followed the same principles for the turkey. Incidentally, I want to give a shout out to Noelle over at Portland Palattes, she sent me a note after she followed the same post and ended up with a delicious chicken.

Back to the turkey. I combined¬†2 sticks of butter (I know!) with achiote paste, garlic, parsley, green onions, orange zest, salt and pepper. After draining and drying the turkey, I then squished the butter under the skin while the oven preheated to 475¬į. I filled the cavity with whole garlic cloves, quartered orange, celery and carrots, and threw some more at the bottom of the roasting pan.

After inserting the electronic thermometer (love that thing!) I placed the whole¬†thing in the oven for 15 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 325¬į and roasted it, undisturbed until the internal temp read 185¬į–about 3 extra hours. No basting, no¬†turning, no nothing. ¬†Once it was done, it got a foil blanket and took a little nap for about 30 minutes before I began carving.

The fact that *I* had to do the carving this time explains why there are no pictures of that part. Sorry, I was in a panic at the thought of it. I didn’t do too badly. Look at these shots and tell me you don’t want some turkey like NOW!

Gravy. You see that pretty gravy? Of course, you can’t have turkey without some gravy, so gravy I made. I poured the cooking liquid out of the roasting pan. Once the fat raised to the top, I scooped out about 4 tablespoons of it and heated it in a saucepan. To that I added 2 cloves of garlic¬†finely diced,¬†cooked them¬†for a couple of minutes before adding¬†4 tablespoons of flour, stirred it in and allowed it to cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add the reserved liquid (not the fat), be sure to keep stirring or you’ll end up with lumps and bumps. Once it boils, it will begin to thicken. At this point you can adjust the seasoning as necessary. Keep warm and pour over the sliced turkey.

And here it is. I always always always have cranberry with my turkey. Straight out of the can, I love the stuff. But, this is a Latin Thanksgiving, so no cranberries for you. Instead…

Guayaba Sauce

Guayaba, or guava as it’s known in the US, is similar in color and temperament to cranberry. By temperament I mean they have very similar flavor profiles, they’re both sweet and tart, though guayaba doesn’t have that tangy bite cranberries do. This sauce was easy to make and DELICIOUS with the turkey.

I combined about 6 ozs of guayaba paste with the juice of 2 oranges and the zest of 1 and¬†1 diced shallot, brought it all to a boil and seasoned with a dash of salt just before serving. That’s it!

To see the recipes for the rest of this incredible meal, follow this link. To see the other food porn shots, click here.

Gobble gobble!
Cookingly yours,