Main Dish

Day of the Dead Oaxacan Turkey Mole

ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards

12040 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, CA 95448

  • RECIPE YEAR: 2013
  • RECIPE BY: Jeff Mall, Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • YIELD: Serves 6
  • PAIRS WELL WITH: Acorn Heritage Vines Zinfandel

I created this dish because my wife’s birthday is November 2, one of the Days of the Dead. Days of the Dead honor those on the “other side,” as many Mexicans believe that the door between earth and the dead is open on these two days; Oaxaca is home to some of the most colorful celebrations. The mole (MO-lay) recipe makes 2 quarts and freezes quite well.

  • 4 ounces dried chiles negros (chiles mulato)
  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles
  • 1 garlic head
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1 corn tortilla
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup corn oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw peanuts
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 quarts chcken stock
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablet Ibarra Mexican chocolate
  • 3 cups cooked turkey meat
  • Mashed acorn squash for serving


Destem the chiles, slit them open and remove the seeds. In a dry fry pan over medium-high heat, toast the chiles. Set aside.

Prepare a fire in a grill.

Peel the papery skin from the garlic head. Roast it on the grill until it blackens, about 15 minutes, then remove the tough core and root. Char the whole tomato the same way. Using tongs, char the tortilla over an open flame until well toasted. Let the tortilla cool, then grind it in a mortar with a pestle. Remove the tortilla from the mortar. In a dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame and cumin seeds, then grind them together in the mortar.

Heat a large fry pan on the stovetop and pour in 1/2 cup of the corn oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. Transfer the onion to a bowl. Add the peanuts, walnuts and almonds to the oil in the pan and fry them until golden brown. Transfer the nuts to another bowl. In the same pan, toast the bread on both sides, then transfer to a plate. Add more oil to the pan, if necessary, and fry the plantain. Transfer to a plate.

In a food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, tomato, sesame-cumin mixture, oregano, thyme and 1 cup of the stock and puree. In a clean large fry pan, warm the remaining 1/4 cup corn oil and add the puree. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

In a blender, combine the tortilla, onion, nuts, bread, plantain, raisins, cinnamon and 1 cup of the stock and puree. In a large saucepan, combine this puree with the chile mixture and the remaining stock and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the chocolate and stir until melted.

To serve, place 2 cups of the mole in a saucepan, add the turkey and heat until warmed through. Serve over mashed acorn squash.

ACORN Winery/Alegria Vineyards

12040 Old Redwood Highway
Healdsburg, CA 95448