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Mole Magic by Chef Martin San Roman: Turkey and Organic Mole Dishes for the Holidays


An organic mole was created by Chef Martin for Whole Foods Market in Hillcrest, San Diego.

An organic mole was created by Chef Martin for Whole Foods Market in Hillcrest, San Diego.

There are few things more iconic of Mexico than mole, a word that most people associate with chocolate but which actually is a generic reference to a number of different sauces that are integral to authentic Mexican cuisine. And there are few chefs whose culinary skills capture the magic of mole quite as effectively as Chef Martin San Roman.

Chef Martin San Roman

Chef Martin San Roman

The award-winning (more than 250 awards, actually) Chef Martin has traveled the world representing Mexican cuisine. He is currently a consulting chef for Season Catering and Events and for Whole Foods Market 7th Ave Pub in Hillcrest, both in San Diego. He defines his San Diego menus as Urban Baja Cuisine. He is also the executive chef/consultant  for the boutique hotel La Casa Fernanda’s La Veladora restaurant in the pueblo magico of Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. Here, he has perfected a style of cooking that he calls Baja Tepoz, using ingredients from the Morelos area with a Baja flair – things like wild cilantro, wild mushrooms from deep in the forest, masa triangles called itacates, as well as rabbits, quail, lamb, goat and more.

Rabbit tamal with tomatillo and wild cilantro sauce at La Casa Fernanda.

Rabbit tamal with tomatillo and wild cilantro sauce at La Casa Fernanda.

His deep knowledge of ingredients and how to employ them has helped him attain stature among Mexico’s top chefs…and it has given him the ability to diversify and adapt his food creations to any occasion. Hence, his ability to produce a luscious organic mole for a recent tasting at Whole Foods Market.

Holy organic mole, Batman! This rich concoction, which will undoubtedly make guests ooh-and-aah, is a perfect enhancement to holiday meals, no matter whether they are eaten in Mexico or the United States. Chef Martin has agreed to share his mole recipe and ideas for menu preparation with

First, let’s get to know a bit more about mole. The history of mole is, like the final sauce product, a bit murky but in a delicious way. The favorite version takes place at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, in the 17th century. The Archbishop was planning a last-minute visit and the nuns didn’t have anything to serve him. They prayed for a tasty answer and, so the legend goes, the angels responded by giving them an idea: the nuns slaughtered an old turkey and, realizing the bird needed some doctoring up, they created a sauce out of things they had on hand—more than 20 components including chili peppers, spices, stale bread, nuts and, to add a European touch, chocolate. Clearly, the dish was a hit.

Grinding nuts, chiles and spices is part of the laborious but rewarding process of making mole.

Grinding nuts, chiles and spices is part of the laborious but rewarding process of making mole.

The word mole comes from mulli, an ancient Aztec word for sauce or stew. There are those who believe that mole was actually created by the Aztec’s king Moctezuma to honor the conquistador Cortez. This version of the story also has a ring of truth in that chocolate was a common ingredient in pre-Columbian Mexico. And there are other versions, too…

What we know for sure is that, history aside, mole is representative of Mexico’s rich culinary and cultural heritage and of the earth, climate and peoples who have invented this savory salsa.

Chef Martin San Roman’s Recipe Created for Whole Foods Market 7th Ave Pub

Organic Mole & Turkey

Step 1:  A 12-14 pound turkey

 Step 2:

3 oz chile morita

3 oz chile pasilla

3 oz chile mulato

3 oz chile cascabel

2 0z chile de arbol

Let the chiles soak in warm water (or organic chicken stock) overnight in a cooler or refrigerator. Save the water.

The next day, fry all the chiles in corn oil, separated, for 1 minute. Then let them cool.

 Step 3:

1 oz sesame seeds

1 oz peanuts

1 oz pumpkin seeds

1 oz walnuts

1 oz almonds

Toast the sesame seeds in a pan and reserve. Fry the remaining ingredients in corn oil. Drain.

Cinnamon and chocolate (particularly Mexican chocolate) add a special flavor to mole.

Cinnamon and chocolate (particularly Mexican chocolate) add a special flavor to mole.

Step 4:

1/2 cinnamon stick

6 oz organic semi-sweet chocolate


1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped tomato

1 tortilla (shredded)

½ cup broken crackers

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1 chopped plantain

1 tablespoon cinnamon

In a blender, add the chiles and all the nuts.

Then add chopped onion, chopped tomato, tortilla, crackers, minced garlic, a chopped plantain, cinnamon and mix well.

Incorporate the water you have saved (from soaking the chiles) with the blended ingredients (if you need more liquid, it is fine to add a bit more water or organic broth). Blend again, and then pass the mixture through a strainer. Then blend what is left on the strainer mesh with a bit more liquid, and pass it again through the strainer. The goal is to create the smoothest sauce.

In a deep pan, add some corn oil and fry the ingredients, constantly mixing with a wooden spoon. Bring all to a low hot simmer, add the chocolate and and blend well.  Season to taste. Your mole must have a chocolate/reddish color, and a smooth mole texture.

 Step 5: 

Roast your turkey. Let it cool and then carve it into small pieces. Mix the pieces with the mole.

For the very best flavors, eat this delicious dish the day after you make it, allowing all the flavors of the spices, nuts, chocolate and chiles to merge.

To create your organic mole, all products must be organic and you can find them at Whole Foods Market or authentic Mexican market.

Buen Provecho and Happy Holidays!
Chef Martin San Roman

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About Carla White

Carla White is a freelance writer, public relations/marketing consultant and event organizer based in Ensenada, Baja, California. Carla and her husband Jim moved to Baja in 2003 from the Los Angeles area believing that, thanks to the internet and satellite communications, they could continue working from home while enjoying a richer, more affordable lifestyle. So far, they’ve been right. Connect with Carla Google+


  1. Angie Sterner says:

    We will be traveling by RV to La Paz and want to find humanitarian service or community/church service projects to spend a few weeks on. Want to help us find needs in the community? We could do lots of things, construction, literacy.. . We just need to get hooked up with members of the community there. Any input appreciated!
    Angie Sterner

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