Manchamanteles

Red Mole with Chicken, Pork, and Fruit

As we move into yet another autumn, it’s time to focus on more substantial dishes, such as moles. I was surprised to see that up to now, I have never included any recipes for these wonderful special-occasion dishes. Yes, most of them have a large number of ingredients and do take time, but they are worth this extra effort.

Most people, when they think of a mole, automatically think of turkey or chicken in a spicy chocolate sauce. Some such as the famous mole poblano do have a very small amount of chocolate as an ingredient, but there are many more that do not. A mole is basically a “mixture,” usually thickened with seeds and/or nuts, flavored with chiles, herbs and spices and contain meat, fowl and often vegetables, or even as in this recipe, fruit.

Manchamanteles or “table-cloth-stainer” is one of my favorite party dishes with a combination of pungent, sweet and full flavors. Serve with seasoned white rice and lots of corn tortillas to mop up the tasty sauce.

Serves 8

  • ¼ cup safflower or peanut oil, or as needed, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ancho chiles, seeded, deveined, and torn into large pieces
  • 4-4 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup water, or as needed
  • 20 almonds
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces, trimmed of excess fat
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, halved
  • ½ pound good-quality chorizo, homemade or purchased, crumbled (optional)
  • ½ inch piece true cinnamon bark or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 peppercorns or 2 large pinches of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 whole cloves or 2 pinches of ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 slices pineapple, cored and cut into large cubes
  • 1 small ripe plantain about ¼ pound, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into large cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small jicama, about ½ pound, peeled and cut into large cubes (optional)
  • Chile jalapeños escabeche

In a large frying pan or cazuela over medium heat, warm the ¼ cup oil. Add the onion and fry until lightly browned and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until softened a few more minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion and garlic to a blender. In the same pan, quickly fry the chiles, flattening them with a spatula until they just start to blister and change color, only a few seconds. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to a work surface and let cool, then tear into small pieces and add to the blender. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and process until smooth, adding ½ cup broth or the water only if necessary to create a good consistency. In the oil remaining in the pan, quickly sauté the nuts until flagrant, and transfer to the blender.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add more oil if necessary. Working in batches, add the pork in a single layer, salt lightly, and brown well on all sides, turning as needed. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to absorbent paper to drain. Add more oil to the pan if it is dry and heat over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in the same manner, until lightly browned on all sides. Drain on absorbent paper. Add the chorizo (if using), brown it, and drain on the paper.

Grind the cinnamon bark, peppercorns and cloves in a spice grinder and add to the blender holding the huts, or add the pre-ground spices. Process thoroughly adding more water, if needed, to create a very smooth sauce. If it is too granular, strain through a medium-mesh sieve.

Reheat the oil remaining in the frying pan over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke, scraping up any meat particles from the pan bottom. Pour in the chile sauce, stirring constantly, being careful that it doesn’t splatter. Add the oregano, then stir in the remaining 3-3 ½ cups broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, add the pork, season with salt, cover, and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter with the 1 tablespoon oil in a separate frying pan over medium heat. Add the pineapple and fry, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Repeat with the plantain or banana, sweet potato and jicama in separate batches.

When the pork is tender add the chicken, chorizo, pineapple, plantain or banana, and sweet potato, cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked throughout, about 10 minutes longer. Add the jicama, taste for salt, and add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick.

Transfer the chicken and chunks of meat and fruit to a warmed serving bowl. Spoon the sauce on top and around them. Serve immediately. Garnish with the chiles jalapeños escabeche (optional).

Adapted from Savoring Mexico, Williams-Sonoma, Time Life Books, 2001 by Marilyn Tausend

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