From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate At A Time
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.