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Manchamanteles de Cerdo y Pollo
(recipe from Authentic Mexican, Rick Bayless, Morrow © 1987 )

The Oaxacans claim it as one of their seven moles, and the books list it in chapters about Guadalajara. But the only place I've eaten it with regularity is Mexico City. Wherever it comes from, it's always popular with my guests: light, mild chile sauce seasoned with black pepper, cloves and cinnamon, then simmered with fruit.

I've chosen this recipe, based on one from Tradiciones gastronomicas oaxaquenas, because it is simple and delicious and it makes very good buffet dish. If you're not planning to set the dish out as the main offering on a buffet, you could serve it with a salad, after appetizers of deep-fried Masa Turnovers (Quesadillas, page 143) and before Mexican Rice Pudding (page286) or flan (page 283).

YIELD: 4 servings
  • 6 medium (about 3 ounces) dried chiles anchos, stemmed, seeded and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil plus a little more if needed
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 pound lean, boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch squares
  • 1 large (1-1/4-pound), whole chicken breast, half-boned and halved (page 225)
  • 2 cloves (or a big pinch ground)
  • 3 black peppercorns ( or a big pinch ground)
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick (or about 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 slices firm white bread, broken up
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus a little more if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 small (about 1 cup) fresh pineapple, cored, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ripe, medium plantain
  • Sugar, about 1-1/2 tablespoons
1. The chiles . Tear the chiles into flat pieces and toast them a few at a Time on 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 boiling water, weight with plate to keep them submerged, and soak 30 minutes.

2. Browning the vegetables with meat. Fry the onion with 2 tablespoons of the lard or oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat until soft, 6 or 7 minutes. Add the garlic and fry until the onion is quite brown, some 4 minutes longer. Transfer the onions and garlic to a blender jar, leaving as much fat as possible in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium -high and add more fat, if needed, to coat pan. Dry the pork on paper towels, then brown it in an uncrowded single layer, 2 to 3 minutes per face; remove, draining well. Dry the chicken pieces, then brown them for 2 to 3 minutes per side, add to the pork and set the skillet aside.

3. The sauce. Drain the chiles and add to the blender. Pulverize the spices in a mortar or spice grinder and add to the chiles, along with the bread and 1 cup water. Stir, blend to a smooth puree, then strain through a medium-mesh seive.

If necessary, add a little lard or oil to coat the skillet, 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 pan.

4. Finishing the dish. Scrape the chile mixture into a large saucepan, stir in 2 cups water, the salt, vinegar and pork. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low for 45 minutes to an hour, until pork is tender. Add the chicken and pineapple, cover and simmer for 13 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, heat a tablespoon of lard or oil in a medium-small skillet over medium. Peel and cube the plantain, then fry it until browned, 3 or 4 minutes and add manchamanteles. Stir in the sugar, taste for salt and thin with a little water if the sauce has thickened past a medium consistency; the flavor should be slightly sweet and fruity. Remove from the heat immediately and serve on warm, deep dinner plates.

Cook's Notes
Chiles Anchos: These sweet chiles are perfect for this dish, though some cooks make the sauce more complex by replacing a couple of anchos with passing and/or mulatos. Using 10 California chiles is an option, but the flavor will be light.

Plantain: If a ripe plantain is unavailable, replace it with 2 cubed, green banana; skip the frying and add them several minutes before removing the pot from the heat.

Timing and Advance Preparation Allow 1-1/2 hours to prepare the manchamanteles, plus an additional hour for simmering. The dish may be prepared entirely in advance; remove it the fire immediately after adding the plantain. Cool it quickly, cover and store up to 4 days in the refrigerator; it improves with a little age. Reheat slowly, covered, on the stovetop or in a 350 oven; thin with a little broth if necessary.

Traditional Variations An Elaborate Manchamanteles for a Crowd: Prepare the recipe, using a double quantity of meat and sauce ingredients and adding 1/4 cup each skinned toasted peanuts and blanched toasted almonds to the chiles before pureeing; along with the pineapple add 1 large sweet potato, 1 apple and 1 pear (all peeled, cored, if appropriate, then cubed). for a different dimension, add 1 cup (8 ounces) fried chorizo sausage with the chicken. Serve garnished with pickled jalapenos.

Kitchen Spanish The named manchamanteles isn't Aztec or Mayan: just a joined pair of Spanish words that means "tablecloth stainer".

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