Tacos with Relleno Negro Sous Vide (Black Filling of Pulled Turkey with Roasted Chiles)

During our vacation in Yucatán in Mexico I thoroughly enjoyed the local food. For lunch we often went to a taquería to have tacos. Taquería Honorio in Tulum has become famous due to René Redzepi’s praise when Noma had a pop-up restaurant in Tulum. At Honorio I tasted tacos with Cochinita Pibil, as well as tacos with Relleno Negro de Pavo (black turkey filling). The filling is black because it is made using recado negro, a spice mixture with roasted dried chiles (the spice mix for Cochinita Pibil is recado rojo, and has a red color). In Yucatán, Relleno Negro is often served with a But, a pork meatball with a hard-boiled egg in the center. But at Honorio it was served with only a slice of hard-boiled egg on top, and that is how I’ve also served it. The recado negro adds great depth of flavor to the turkey. Because I’ve cooked the turkey sous vide and mixed the juices from the bag with the turkey after pulling, it turned out nice and juicy.

Most of the work for this dish is making the recado negro, for which you will need special ingredients. That is why making a large batch of it and freezing it is a good idea. Because of the long cooking time, it is also a good idea to cook a large batch of turkey at the same time and then freeze it in portions. The amounts in the recipe below are for 600 grams of recado (1.3 lbs), which is sufficient for 6 kilos (13 lbs) of turkey. I’ve cooked about 2 kilos (4.5 lbs) of turkey sous vide and have frozen the remaining recado. You can also use it to make a delicious ceviche (recipe to follow).

I have seen recipes for recado negro that involved setting chiles on fire, and then going through a lot of trouble to get rid of the burnt taste. That seems like a roundabout way to me (even though it is perhaps more authentic?), which is why I’ve just roasted the chiles in the oven.


For 600 grams recado negro, sufficient for 6 kilos of boneless turkey

  • 180 grams ancho chiles
  • 9 grains of allspice
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 Tbsp Mexican oregano (substitute with regular oregano)
  • 25 grams achiote paste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seed
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 75 grams onion
  • 60 grams salt

For 8 tacos with relleno negro, serves 2 as a full meal

  • 300 grams boneless and skinless turkey thigh (or 400 grams turkey thigh with skin and bone)
  • 30 grams recado negro, from above
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 eggs (cooked sous vide for 1 hour at 74C/165F)
  • habanero salsa (recipe here)
  • pickled red onions (recipe here)


Toast 74 grams of onion in wedges, 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns, 6 unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon cumin seed, 3 tablespoons Mexican oregano, 6 cloves, and 9 allspice in a preheated oven (fan turned on) for 10 minutes at 225C/440F.

After that I’ve split up the onion into individual layers and toasted those for an additional 10 minutes (so 20 minutes total) to darken the onion without burning it.

In the meantime, open the ancho chiles with your hands and remove the stems and seeds. It is not necessary to keep the chiles whole.

Place the ancho chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet…

…and toast them in the same oven preheated at 225C/440F until they are smoking, about 8 minutes.

Place the toasted chiles in a bowl and cover with cold water. Place a plate on top to keep them submerged.

Allow the chiles to soak until they have softened a little. This will take at least an hour, but overnight will also work.

Place the toasted black peppercorns, cumin, allspice, oregano, and cloves in a spice grinder…

…and grind until you obtain a fine powder. You can also do this the traditional way with a mortar and pestle.

Peel the roasted garlic cloves. Drain the soaked chiles and discard the soaking water. Then place the chiles in a blender together with the roasted onion, peeled roasted garlic, 60 grams of salt, and the ground spices.

Puree until smooth. The recado negro is now ready to be used.

Cut the boneless and skinless turkey thigh in large pieces (of about 4 cm/1.5 inch) and mix with the recado negro. Use 10% recado negro of the weight of the meat, so 30 grams of recado negro for 300 grams of meat. If using turkey thigh with skin and bones, score the meat deeply and use 7.5% of recado negro. If possible, allow to marinate for at least an hour or overnight, so the salt can penetrate into the meat before the cooking begins. You can skip this step if you are pressed for time.

Cook the turkey sous vide at 74C/165F for about 24 hours (a couple of hours more or less doesn’t make a noticeable difference).

You can cook the eggs along with the meat for the last hour, because you will get a perfect hard-boiled egg with a 1 hour at 74C/165F. It may however be more difficult to peel an egg that has been cooked sous vide instead of boiled in the traditional way.

When the turkey is done and you are ready to serve, pour the liquid from the bag into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer a little to reduce the liquid somewhat.

In the meantime, pull the turkey with two forks.

Combine the pulled turkey with the juices in the saucepan, and turn off the heat. Then mix. Taste if any additional salt is needed.

Serve the relleno negro on corn tortillas with a wedge or slice of hard-boiled egg on top and habanero salsa and pickled red onions on the side.

Wine pairing

During wine dinners at my home we have tried these wines with this dish:

  • Allende Rioja DOC Blanco 2018 (95% Viura, 5% Malvasia, Spain, Rioja)
  • Raimbault Sancerre AOC Rouge 2019 (100% Pinot Noir, France, Loire)
  • Marques de Murrieta Capellania 2018 Rioja DOC Gran Reserva (100% Viura, Spain, Rioja)
  • Raimbault Sancerre AOC Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2019 (100% Pinot Noir, France, Loire)
  • Bernardus Monterey County Chardonnay 2017 (100% Chardonnay, USA, California)
  • Anselmet Valle d’Aosta Pinot Noir DOC Semel Pater 2019 (100% Pinot Noir, Italy, Valle d’Aosta)

These are oaked ful-bodied white wines as well as medium-bodied red wines. Both pair well with white meat. Due to the spiciness it is important that the wine, white or red, is not too acidic, because the acids in the wine will make the peppers burn in your mouth. Both red Sancerre wines, the Rioja Gran Reserva, and the Californian Chardonnay were all excellent pairings with this dish. The Marques de Murrieta Capellania Gran Reserva was the nicest wine, but also the most expensive. It paired especially well when using some habanero salsa, as the wine was too powerful for the dish without the alsa. The Bernardus is an over-the-top Californian Chardonnay with a touch of residual sugar, which some people love and some people hate. The red Sancerre wines were delicious and were a great pairing thanks to climate change, because a red Sancerre from 20 or more years ago would have been too acidic. The other white Rioja by Allende was a good pairing, but not as nice as the (twice as expensive) Marques. The Pinot Noir from Valle d’Aosta is a great wine, but was a disappointing pairing with this dish, because the wine was too astringent for the dish due to the tannins and minerality.

5 thoughts on “Tacos with Relleno Negro Sous Vide (Black Filling of Pulled Turkey with Roasted Chiles)

  1. Absolutely and utterly new but can get all the ingredients for the relleno negro and shall try a half-portion of that soonest. Interesting! Am not certain we can even buy turkey thighs here – the meat is not widely used as yet except for holidays by some. Thank you for the fun lesson!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stefan, This is gorgeous. The flavors no doubt are off the chain. This would be a beautiful dish for friends and family. Like you, I love hosting wine dinners ( have one on Saturday). I thought the wines you selected to pair were quite nice.

    Thank you for sharing with us.


    Liked by 1 person

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