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Turkey Breast with Pasilla & Chipotle Chilli & Butter Sauce

by Rick Stein from The Road to Mexico (BBC Books)

Photography: James Murphy

Although Mexico and the southern US are where turkeys come from there are precious few recipes for them in Mexican cuisine. It’s traditional to serve mole poblano with turkey, but more often than not it’s made with chicken. So I thought I would come up with my own roast turkey dish. I found that most supermarkets sell a butter-basted turkey breast joint, which serves three or four people, and I marinated this in the chilli salsa, then slow roasted it. I suggest serving it with Mexican red rice, or slicing it and rolling it up in tortillas with some pico de gallo salsa and avocado, but then it’s also nice British style with roast potatoes and yes, some Brussels sprouts.


Serves 3-4


Butter-basted turkey breast joint (about 650g)

10g butter


For the marinade

1 pasilla chilli, seeds shaken out (or Nigel says substitute with jalapeño, ancho or mulato dried chillies) 

3 cloves garlic

½ small onion, chopped

2 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

30g butter

1 heaped tsp Chipotles en adobo (see recipe below or bought in)

5g achiote paste (optional)

25g cashew nuts

1 tbsp dark brown sugar



Tear the pasilla chilli into 4 or 5 pieces and put them in a bowl with 200ml of just-boiled water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes. Put the chilli with its soaking water and the remaining marinade ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour one-third of this mixture over the turkey breast and rub it in all over. Cover and leave the turkey to marinate in the fridge for 1–2 hours.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Put the turkey in a roasting tin and add 70ml of water. Roast for 45 minutes, then put the butter on top of the turkey and roast for another 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the turkey with a probe if you have one – it should be 70°C. Baste the turkey with the pan juices, then transfer it to a warm plate, cover with foil and leave it to rest for 5–10 minutes.


Add 100ml of water to the juices in the tin and deglaze over a medium heat. Add the remaining marinade and stir to combine. Simmer for 5–10 minutes, adding a little more water if the sauce looks too thick, then pass the sauce through a sieve.


Slice the turkey on the bias and serve with sauce spooned over and some Mexican red rice or roast potatoes.

Chipotles En Adobo

Makes enough for a 370g jar


8 chipotle chillies

3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

4 large cloves garlic, peeled & sliced

60ml cider vinegar

¾ tsp salt

2 tsp brown sugar



Wash the chillies, remove the hard stems, but leave the seeds in place.  Put the chillies in a bowl with 150ml of just-boiled water & cover with cling film.  Leave the chillies to soak for about 20 mins.


Remove 3 of the soaked chipotles, leaving the rest in the water, & put them in a food processor or blender.  Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, salt, the soaking liquid & the sugar, then process to make a smooth paste.


Tip this paste into a pan & add the remaining whole soaked chipotles.


Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat & simmer the chipotles for about 1 hour.

Check them every 20-30 mins & add a little more boiling water if needed.


Leave to cool slightly, then pour into a sterilised glass jar.  Cool completely & store in the fridge for up to a month.


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