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article imageHoly Mole! (Mo-Ley)

By John Rickman     Aug 5, 2007 in Food
The scientific name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao -'food of the gods.' The Olmecs, the oldest civilization archeologists have yet found in the Americas (1500-400 BCE) were the first to grow and use this divine plant.
For the civilizations of the New World it was considered a symbol of abundance and was an important part of their religious rituals. Cacao was used as an offering at the funerals of noblemen, an aphrodisiac, a popular drink and was even used as a form of currency.
Montezuma considered cacao an aphrodisiac and would drink vast quantities of the bean in a foaming drink known as ‘xocolatl (chocolate) before visiting his huge harem. He might have been onto something since even today we give our special ladies boxes of chocolate for Valentines day.
While for most of us chocolate is considered a “candy” or something sweet the Aztecs made their ‘xocolatl drink by mixing the crushed beans with water and adding chilies and herbs. It is this ability to work well with spices that makes today’s recipe so wonderful.
Mole Manchamanteles
Manchamanteles Means “stains tablecloths” and it really does! Be careful!
1 small turkey (about 12 lbs)
2 chopped onions
3 large cloves of garlic minced
4 tablespoons lard or turkey fat
4 squares bitter chocolate
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups turkey stock
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¾ cup chile powder
4 dried tortillas, or ½ cup corn meal
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon anise
Salt to taste
Cut turkey in pieces, cover with water, and simmer until just tender, adding salt to taste. Note: Chicken can be substituted if you wish.
Toast sesame seeds in a heavy dry skillet stirring often so that they won’t burn.
Break tortillas into pieces and if not dry put them in a slow oven until hard. Corn meal can be substituted.
In the meantime cook the chopped onion and garlic in the shortening until wilted, and put in a blender along with the chocolate (cut into pieces) 1 cup of stock and the remaining ingredients. Blend ingredients until smooth, adding remaining stock and more salt if necessary.
Drain turkey pieces and arrange in a shallow dish. Pour mole sauce over the turkey (or chicken). This recipe is best if it is made a day in advance and then heated thoroughly before serving.
My father decided one Thanksgiving that he was going to go all out and fix Turkey Mole for the holiday feast. He was busy in the small kitchen of our unit of housing on the Naval Base of NAS Alameda preparing the elaborate sauce with its chocolate and peanut butter. The blender jar was almost full and the blender was straining to keep going under the heavy load when it jumped it restraining lugs and unscrewed itself from its base.
Well, mole went everywhere – on the stove, on the walls, on the back splash, on the ceiling, and all over my Dad. Good golly Miss Molly what a mess! The cleanup took longer than the meal, and we never really got the stain off the ceiling. Reluctantly Dad decided to forego the mole for this meal and we had to eat plain turkey with dressing and gravy.
What a hardship!
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