Thursday, December 2, 2010

Turkey vs. Spam 3: Second Impact

So I have had this idea of making turkey in black mole for Thanksgiving since, oh, late 2009 or whenever Rick Bayless won Top Chef Masters, and no volunteering at any rescue mission was going to stop me from completing this mission. So I went to the Mission to buy two pounds of dried hot peppers at Casa Lucas Market on Sunday evening and dug into the mole-making on Wednesday afternoon, not really sure when I was going to serve it but pretty intent on completing it before going to bed.

This is everything that I needed to make the mole. There are 23 ingredients--there should be 24 but I forgot to ask my neighbors who have an avocado tree if they could spare any avocado leaves for my stupid effing mole for non-Thanksgiving. I was tremendously fortunate, however, that the incredibly late tomato season this year, about which I have blogged endlessly, left me with a ton of green tomatoes at the end of November. Ned Flanders notes in his recipe that serving a black mole with a standing rib roast for New Year's Day would be stunning; however, he doesn't suggest where in the world you might obtain fresh, unripe tomatoes on December 27.

Let me just say that this is without question the most challenging thing I have ever attempted to make. I once had a roommate who complained that in the course of cooking an evening meal I would get every pot in the house dirty. This is the first dish I have made that has gotten every pot in my house dirty twice--like, I needed to wash dishes halfway through the mole just so I can get them all dirty again. And since John moved in, well, I have a lot more pots than I used to.

Setting things on fire. Blending things. Grilling things. Straining things. Reducing things. Frying dried peppers in lard. Straining things again. Wiping splattered pork fat off of every surface in your kitchen. I even invited Mitra and Adelaide over for dinner just so that I could make chicken stock for this recipe. I would say that it took about eight hours from start to finish.

At the end of the day it was delicious: rich, toasty, lingering, just barely spicy. However, it's not something that I would ever consider making again for any reason even if somebody were playing me $835. Luckily, I don't have to worry about making it again anytime soon, because even after cooking an entire turkey in it (braising the dark meat and shredding the poached breast meat), I ended up with a few quarts of mole leftover for, well, mole emergencies later this winter. And if the yellow indian woman beans I tossed in it last night are any indication, I'm hoping to have a lot of mole emergencies in the coming months.

NB: It is less expensive to buy yellow indian woman beans online than to buy them at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. I remember this because the last time I went to the Ferry Building I walked right up to Rancho Gordo, picked up a bag, and said "I want some Yellow Indian Woman beans." The lady working there, who was not gorda at all, replied, "You can have them! For six dollars."

I also had a lot of fun cutting up the turkey before dropping it in the bubbling sauce! This is the kind of the thing that I thought I could never do, but once you start reading the instructions and feeling up the bird, it's like, "Oh! That's where the leg is attached! Oh! You can just pull the breast off with your hand! Oh! It's actually not fun to twist this until it breaks but I have to do it!"

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