Lazybones Slowcooker Turkey Mole
I love our crazy ramshackle house which has never heard of a square angle. We’re not thinking of moving any time soon, but once in a while I do like to ponder the possibility. Oh, no – not like moving to a different suburb, but maybe to a different country….or at least a different province. I like to picture these things, and then write out my pros and cons.
- public healthcare
- social programs
- affordable lodging (mostly)
- reliable banks
- low unemployment rate
- employment & labour standards
- human rights mentality
- generally reliable law enforcement
- gay marriage is a-ok
- clean drinking water
- crappy selection of chili peppers
- 8 months of winter
- seafood is awfully expensive
- slow action legislation
- what kind of a supply chain doesn’t include poblanos?
- I miss the big chubby globe artichokes they had in France
- public transportation system is a joke
So it would appear, to the average observer, that most of my beefs with living in Ontario have to do with….food selection. Huh.
The average observer would be correct.
I suppose that I could just pick up pace with the rest of the free world and order my more esoteric ingredients on line, but for some reason I’m still paralyzed with fear that a scurrilous purveyor of produce is going to thieve my identity and steal the $38 that I’ve been saving up in my bank account. Even thinking about it makes my blood boil. That money has already been earmarked for a pedicure, thank you very much. Go…go hold up the LCBO, or something. These callouses need a-tendin’.
That said, this is not an authentic mole. I should just be clear about that, right off the bat. The first reason is pretty obvious….like a true sullen Canadian I’m using jalapeno and tiny red chili peppers, because that’s all I could get at my (perennially disappointing) grocery store. No guajillo, ancho, puya or mulato peppers (normally found in mole) for this kid! The best that I can reliably find at any given grocer in my area is jalapeno and….something else. That something may be Thai Bird’s Eye one day, green finger chili the next, possibly a habanero or Scotch bonnet, but that’s where the donkey lays down and dies. I found poblano peppers, once. What a sweet, sweet day that was. Sigh.
The second main difference between this and a traditional mole is the discerned lack of effort involved. Because, really, if I could find a way to lie on my couch and stare at the stove until I willed my pot to stir itself, I would. If we think about the actual active ‘work’ time of this dish, and you remove putting peppers and tomatoes on a bare pan to roast in the oven (because, c’mon. I’m lazy, but I’m not DEAD), you’re looking at less than 20 minutes of attention and investment. After that, the slow cooker does all the work while you drink whiskey and nap have time to do the laundry or catch up on current events.
Yup. No fussy rehydrating, frying and grinding of dried peppers down in this corner. No thirty six steps of complicated instruction to make this dish. Just you, your food processor, and the slow cooker makes three (so put it on a platter for my baby and me!) And hey, if it’s common and somewhat lacking in authenticity or not, this is one of our slow cooker favorites because I swear it rubs you on the tummy and purrs, “Bourgeoi-SEE? This ain’t so bad, now is it?”
Lazybones Slowcooker Turkey Mole
- 1.5 kg (3-3.5 lb) bone in turkey legs and thighs *
- 1 lb ripe tomato
- 3 large jalapeno peppers
- 5 small red chili peppers **
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup skin-on almonds
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seed
- 1/2 cup sultana raisins
- 3 tbsp oil ***
- 1 small onion
- 8 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp dried anise seed
- 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1.5 cinnamon sticks, or the equivalent in cinnamon bark ****
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate *****
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
* This works out to about 4 chubby chunks of turkey. I used 2 legs and 2 thighs….and it cost me $7.89. Now really, how can you say no to that?? Dinner for six, all in, will cost about $2 per person. Oooh yeaaaaah.
**I do truly wish that we had a better chili pepper selection in our Ontario supermarkets. But we don’t. Thai birds eye peppers are quite spicy (more than a cayenne pepper, less than a Scotch bonnet) and also quite wee, but you can substitute any spicy hot red pepper that you prefer, and add an amount according to taste. Frankly, I would have been just as happy to use a canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (sadly, the most authentic Mexican item in our stores) but I like them so much that my pantry was bare.
*** Peanut oil would be traditional, but being someone who only uses peanut oil for deep frying (and, uh, doesn’t deep fry) I used olive oil. Sometimes you just make do.
*** I wish we had true Mexican canela. But we don’t. And really, canela to cinnamon is like the sky to blue.
***** Now it seems that I’ve just developed a perverse fascination with starry footnotes. ST*RS!! WHEEEE! Alright, back to chocolate. There is a big difference between bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate. Notably, the latter is….unsweetened. This is not the time or place to melt half a Hershey bar into your pot.
Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Lay the jalapenos and tomatoes onto a dry baking sheet and tuck them in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skins of the chilis are blistered and charred, and the tomato skins are split. Let them cool for a few minutes until you can handle the piping hot flesh without too much unbearable discomfort.
In the bowl of a large food processor place the pumpkin seeds, raisins, almonds and oil. Peel the onion and slice it into several large chunks so it can snuggle in as well. Peel the garlic and add it to the mix. Finally, cut the stems off of the jalapenos and pop them in. Core the woody stem end out of the tomatoes and let them join the party, along with your small red chili peppers. Season fairly liberally with salt.
If you wanted less heat in this dish you could split all of the chilis in half and remove the ribs and seeds. However, I do believe that’s tantamount to stealing all the light out of life. The final dish is spicy but by no means unbearable, more like a ‘heavy medium’ than an ‘oh god that’s hot’. Ergo, I throw them in whole.
Pulse the mixture several times until the ingredients start to break up, and then puree it until you have a fairly thick sauce. The texture should be similar to a thin remoulade. If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon or two of chicken stock to thin it out ever so slightly.
Peel the skin and remove any visible chunks of fat from your turkey pieces but leave them whole. I suppose that you could debone them, if you were that sort of person. I’m not. My butchering skills leave something to be desired, so I’m quite happy to leave the bones in and let a slow braise do all the grunt work for me.
Nestle your turkey parts into your slow cooker in as close to an even layer as you can manage. Pour the pureed nuts and aromatics over top and sprinkle on the cloves, anise, red pepper flakes and cinnamon bark. Throw the butter and chocolate chunks on top of the lot.
Set your slow cooker to the ‘low’ setting, and let it stew away for 7-8 hours. After about 3o minutes the chocolate and butter will have melted, so it doesn’t hurt to give the sauce a stir to make sure that they’re incorporated and the spices are evenly dispersed. Make sure that all the turkey is smothered and covered before you put the lid back on (otherwise you’ll have some deliciously tender and flavorful braised turkey, with a few bits of chewy, dry, baked turkey tagging along for the ride).
After the long, slow braise the turkey will be literally falling off the bones. So….best to reach in and pull them out. Turkey, like all poultry, has the ‘big bones’ and the ‘sneaky little bones that want to choke you’. It’s always prudent to sift through and peer intently into the bottom of that pot until you’re fully convinced that no shards of bone or gobs of gristle remain. When the bones are gone you can literally nudge the meat apart into chunks using the same pair of tongs.
Gourmet? Not particularly. Easy on the eyes? Uh……..easy on the appetite? Oh yeah. Also, by this point, your house is so infused with aromas of scintillating spices that you’ll be dying to plunder the depths of that crock pot.
The mole really doesn’t need any dressing up, and we served it on a bed of buttery garlic infused long grain white rice. That splurge, of course, brought the total price per person up by about 13¢, but I suppose once in a while you just have to splurge.
I love the rich, dark and chocolaty color. The layers of flavor of complex but utterly compelling. You get waves of rich, spicy, deep, herbal and homey in each nurturing bite. As far as slow cookers go, this isn’t comfort food; it’s SOUL FOOD.