Simple Red Mole with Meat and Fowl
Manchamanteles de Cerdo y Pollo
Makes 8 servings
From Season 9, Mexico: One Plate At A Time
12 medium (about 6 ounces total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
½ cup lard or vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, sliced
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 large chicken breast halves (bone-in, skin on), about 2 ½ to 3 pounds total
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
A 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
4 slices firm white bread, torn into small pieces
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ small (about 2 cups) fresh pineapple, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 ripe, medium plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Prepare the chiles. Tear the chiles into flat pieces and toast them a few at a time on a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, pressing them down for a few seconds with a metal spatula, then flipping and pressing again; when they send up their aroma and change color, they’re ready. Cover with hot tap water and soak for 30 minutes, then discard the soaking liquid.
2. Brown the vegetables and meat. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the lard or oil in a large (8-quart) Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 6 or 7 minutes. Add the garlic and fry until the onion is nicely browned, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the onions and garlic to a blender jar, leaving as much fat as possible in the pot.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add more fat, if needed, to coat the pot. Dry the pork on paper towels, then brown it in an uncrowded single layer, 2 to 3 minutes per side; remove to a plate, draining well. Dry the chicken breasts and cut each one into three pieces. Brown them for 2 to 3 minutes per side, add to the pork and set the pot aside.
3. Make the sauce. Add the rehydrated chiles to the blender. Pulverize the spices in a mortar or spice grinder and add to the chiles, along with the bread and 1 cup of water. Blend to a smooth puree, then strain through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl.
If necessary, add a little lard or oil to coat the pot, then set over medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the puree all at once and fry, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes until darkened and thick, dislodging any bits that earlier may have stuck to the pan.
4. Finish the dish. Stir in 2 cups of water, salt (about 2 teaspoons), vinegar and browned pork. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pork is tender. Add the chicken and pineapple, cover and simmer 13 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, heat a tablespoon of lard or oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the plantains and fry until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add to the manchamanteles. Stir in the sugar (usually about 2 or 3 tablespoons). Thin with a little water if the sauce has thickened past a medium consistency. Taste and season with more salt and sugar if necessary; the flavor should be slightly sweet and fruity. Remove from the heat immediately and serve on warm, deep dinner plates.