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Now That the Holiday’s Over

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving dinner has come and gone. Mostly gone. While it was everything you could have hoped for, I'll wager you’ve pretty much lost interest in the leftover turkey sandwiches that seemed so wonderful – back on Wednesday. Even stuffing has lost its appeal. 
And yet there is still more turkey in the ‘fridge.
Assuming you’ve already served every conceivable variation of the original dinner, and gone off into Turkey Tetrazini territory and beyond, you’re probably looking for a way to serve that left-over turkey in some way that doesn’t taste so much like… so much like… well, you know, turkey.
Around our house, we have a solution to this annual problem. It may not be new, or traditional in a New England sort of way, but it has prevented a lot of tired left-overs from becoming raccoon fodder.
Back in seventeenth century Mexico -- as the story goes – word reached a poor convent that its bishop was going to pay a visit to the nuns. They needed to find something suitable to serve him, but all they had was turkey. After all these centuries, we can’t be certain that it was left-over turkey but, for the sake of the story, let’s go with it. 
In a state of increasing panic, they ransacked their pantry for anything that might make the boring turkey more appetizing. They found chiles – this was Mexico, after all -- but also some spices, a little dried fruit, some nuts, and a few precious blocks of chocolate. They combined it all and served the bishop the best thing he had ever tasted. He left the convent a happy man, and everywhere he traveled, he raved about the wonderful dish he’d had in Puebla. A bishop on a donkey was the foodie blog of the day, and the dish became an immediate success.
There’s a wonderful recipe for it in Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico. It’s a complex and time-consuming process – wholly undesirable characteristics in the days following exhaustive efforts in the kitchen and dining room. We want something easy, something tasty, something we can eat with our hands as simply as a sandwich – yet not another damn sandwich – and something that will not even vaguely remind us of repasts so recently perdu.
Our solution is this much-simplified version of Ms. Kennedy’s Mole Poblano de Guajolote. We spoon it onto flour tortillas, and wrap them burrito-style. They’re good on their own, but (if you’ve recovered enough from the holiday to exert yourself) a garnish of avocado cubes, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, and some mild Oaxacan cheese would not be out of place.
Quick Mole Poblano
Yield: 8-10 servings
6 cups turkey stock (you did make stock from the bones, right?)
1 oz. stale French bread
4 cloves
1/8 tsp. coriander seed
10 black peppercorns
¼ tsp. fennel seed
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. raisins
1 Tbsp. chile powder (I used ancho)
20 almonds, unpeeled
3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 oz. raw pumpkin seeds
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
12 oz. leftover turkey, shredded
8-10 nine-inch flour tortillas
1. Combine first twelve ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot, bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. Cook until bread has broken down, and the sauce is slightly thickened.

2. Pour mixture into blender. Cover tightly, place kitchen towel over blender cover (hot liquids can easily splash out dangerously), and blend until smooth. Don’t over-fill the blender – if need be, purée in two batches.

3. Pour mixture back into pot, and add chopped chocolate. Heat gently, while stirring, until all chocolate is melted. Taste for seasoning, and thin with a little more stock if needed (it should be very thick, but not pasty). 

4. Add shredded turkey and cook until just heated through, stirring to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch.

5. Spoon about a half cup of mole across a tortilla, add garnishes if desired, fold in the two sides, then roll up to form the classic burrito shape.


Anonymous Cynthia Bertelsen said...

Ah, mole poblano. One dish I loved when I lived in Puebla during my semester abroad. I will have to try your abbreviated version. The convent story is likely apocryphal, but that's OK, it makes, well, a great fable.

December 3, 2013 at 6:59 AM  

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