It's all out the window this year, baby. It started in my bathroom, where all my best ideas come from, perusing a recent issue of Saveur. In the middle of the magazine was a small photo of a glistening, chocolate-brown turkey that had been baked in a deep, earthy chile-sauce, something author Javier Cabral likened to a Zacatecas, Mexico-style molé.
Why had I never thought of that? I love molé poblano like a first born child, and never once had I slightly schemed up a plot to roast a big holiday turkey in such a luscious, rich sauce. But all that's done now. Coming soon to a table near you - Bryanne Salazar's Molé Poblano Roasted Turkey.
I picked up all the ingredients at my local tienda yesterday. Molé is no joke my friends. There are a dozen or so ingredients that seem as likely to go together as Jack Nicholson and Lara Flynn Boyle. Somehow, though - they work.
Hiding inside a molé poblano are dried, rehydrated chipotle, pasilla, mulato, and ancho chiles. I decided to add an old favorite, guajillo chiles to my upcoming Thanksgiving witches brew. Added to the chiles are things like unsweetened chocolate, torn up corn tortillas and baguette, raw peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, anise seed, cumin and coriander, black pepper, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, raisins, tomatillos, chicken stock and more! This crazy concoction has to simmer on low for hours (like an angry housewife) before it loses all sense of self and melds into one thick, velvety sauce. I cannot wait for that moment to happen in my kitchen! That is something to be thankful for.
This year I once again purchased an Amish raised bird from a local farm. It's not quite organic but as close as you can get without the certification. I find the meat to be more flavorful and the fat to melt easier. Plus - I love the fact that I am supporting my local economy. If it is at all possible - buy your turkeys locally.
Like last year, I'm going to practice some spatchcockery on the bird. Basically, to cut my cooking time in half, I'm going to chop out the bird's spinal column and crack the breast bones to create a flat canvas to roast. My 20 lb. turkey will take only about 2.5 hours instead of 5-5.5 hours of traditional roast time.
Never fear - that spine won't go to waste. I'll use it with the neck to make a rich stock for my stuffing. If you're a bit grossed out - you're not really a foodie.
But the turkey isn't the only star this Thanksgiving - we are playing on our south of the border theme and have come up with a host of sides fit for a spicy centerpiece.
Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens with bacon, roasted brussell sprouts (also with bacon), sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, green beans in a spicy cream sauce with shallots, crescent rolls and sparkling cider, we are making:
Jalapeno cranberry relish
Roasted pumpkin soup with cilantro crema and toasted cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds
Kohlrabi and Collard greens sauteed with garlic, chiles, onions and cumin
Fire-roasted poblano tamale-cornbread stuffing (50/50 tamale masa and corn meal mix)
Mexican-fried basmati rice
Frijoles de olla (soupy beans cooked in a pot)
Tomato and Tomatillo salsas
Green-chile deviled eggs
Doesn't that sound awesome? I think so. To keep the kids happy we've decided to keep the traditional desserts - Pecan and Pumpkin pies, with some homemade whipped cream and warm mugs of unpasteurized apple cider.
I will be taking lots of pictures during Thursday to share with you all later. Until then - let me know what you plan on doing this Thanksgiving! Are you sticking with old-classics or are you trying something new? I'd love to hear about it!
This just added: my sons have arm-wrestled me into sticking with mashed potatoes, but I can make a molé-turkey gravy with them. Sigh. Looks like everyone is happy now.