Jurafsky's book got me thinking that mole might make a good foundation for a Thanksgiving turkey brine. I'd had such great results brining a turkey breast in 2012 and using a spicy brine for chicken last year, that I thought it might not only work but make for an incredibly flavorful turkey.
|(top) dried ancho chiles; (below) sautéing the vegetables, nuts and spices.
Because this is a brine recipe, remember to allot enough time for making this. The turkey needs to brine overnight, so you should plan to make the mole and prepare the brine the day before you roast the turkey. I use a jumbo 2 1/2 gallon sealable plastic bag for the brining with the whole thing set in a large metal bowl (just in case; it would be awful to have raw turkey brine spilled all over the fridge).
Brines give turkey subtle flavors, so don't expect a super spicy turkey from this. What you get is the wonderful subtle flavors of the various mole spices. The turkey is moist and perfectly seasoned.
Mole Brined Roast Turkey Breast
Mole sauce adapted from a mole poblano recipe by Pati's Mexican Table, itself adapted from Sor Andrea de la Asunción from the Santa Rosa Convent.
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 oz. ancho chile peppers, split in half, stems and seeds removed
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tbsp. sliced almonds
3 tbsp. unsalted roasted peanuts
3 tbsp. golden raisins
1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
5 whole cloves, stemmed
1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. dried marjoram
6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 cups water
2/3 cup kosher salt
2 cups warm water
3 quarts cold water
1 5-8 lb. turkey breast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chile peppers and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Remove the chiles from the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds and cook another 2-3 minutes, then add the sesame seeds, spices and herbs (cloves, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, thyme and marjoram), and cook another 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and bittersweet chocolate, then add the chiles and water and stir until the ingredients are well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then puree the mixture in batches using a blender or immersion blender. Transfer to a container and store in the fridge until ready to use. Makes about 3 to 4 cups.
2. Add 2 cups of the mole sauce to a large (2 gallon) sealable plastic bag (reserve the rest of the mole for another use, such as mole gravy). Combine the kosher salt and warm water and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the warm water and salt mixture to the bag and stir to combine with the mole. Add the remaining water and stir to combine. Place the turkey breast in the bag with the mole brine, then place the bag in a large bowl. Put in the refrigerator to bring overnight (about 20 to 24 hours).
3. Preheat oven to 450 F. Remove turkey from brine (discard brine), place on a V-rack set in a roasting pan. Pat dry, then brush or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes. Loosely cover the turkey breast with aluminum foil, reduce heat to 300 F and continue roasting another 2 to 2 1/2 hours or more (depending on the turkey's size) until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 F. Let turkey rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Cut the two breast halves from the bones, then slice into 1-inch pieces. Serve on a platter.
Other Thanksgiving Recipes:
Thanksgiving Central (all Thanksgiving recipes)
Brined Roasted Turkey Breast
Roasted Turkey Breast with Herb Butter