In classic mole poblano, turkey is a popular choice for protein, although chicken is also very common. The rich, spicy flavors of our Ancho, Guajillo and Pasilla Negro Chiles paired with fragrant cinnamon and chocolate create the deep flavors of this traditional dish. Given the numerous steps involved in the recipe, consider dividing the preparation over several days to make the task more approachable.

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 200 min

Total time: 230 min

Turkey in Red Mole
Copyright Recipe © 2015 Woodland Foods


Makes 12-14 servings


  1. Mix together all chile seeds, and measure out 4 tablespoons, discarding remainder. Place in small skillet over medium heat, along with 4 tablespoons sesame seeds. Toast seeds, shaking pan occasionally, for 2 minutes, then transfer to spice grinder. Repeat toasting procedure with anise, peppercorns and cloves, and transfer to spice grinder. Add thyme, oregano, bay leaves and cinnamon to grinder, then grind mixture into powder. Set aside in large mixing bowl.

  2. Tear chiles into pieces. Heat oil in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, toast chiles for about 20 seconds, turning often. Use slotted spoon to transfer chiles onto paper towels to drain. Once all chiles are toasted, transfer to large bowl, and add boiling water to cover. Set aside for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving soaking liquid.

  3. Working in batches, combine one third of chiles, 1/3 cup soaking liquid and 1/4 cup stock in blender. Purée, then strain, using rubber spatula to push mixture through fine mesh sieve. Discard solids, and set purée aside.

  4. Return skillet with oil to medium heat. Working with one ingredient at a time, fry almonds, peanuts, pumpkin kernels, raisins, bread and tortillas until just golden brown or lightly toasted. Drain each fried ingredient on paper towels. Break bread and tortillas into small pieces, and place in bowl containing ground spice mixture, along with toasted almonds, peanuts, pumpkin kernels and raisins. Set aside.

  5. Strain all but 2 tablespoons oil in skillet through fine mesh strainer into 8-quart Dutch oven. Set aside.

  6. Return skillet to medium-high heat, and add garlic and onions. Cook, stirring, until brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer garlic and onion mixture to bowl containing spice mixture.

  7. Return skillet to medium-high heat, and add tomatillos and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with spice mixture, along with 2-3/4 cups stock. Purée mixture in blender, and press through strainer into bowl. Set aside.

  8. Heat Dutch oven with oil over medium-high heat. Season turkey breasts with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then brown, turning once. Transfer to plate.

  9. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons oil from Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add reserved chile purée, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add spice mix purée, reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.

  10. Add remaining stock and chocolate. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring often, for 1 hour. Add sugar, and season to taste with salt.

  11. Preheat oven to 325°F.

  12. Place turkey breast halves in mole sauce. Transfer to oven and bake, covered, until turkey reaches internal temperature of 150°F, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing turkey.

  13. Serve with mole sauce, and garnish with remaining sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs. Serve with warm tortillas.