Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mancha Mantel

Dan made up our meal plan for the week after consulting with some cookbooks, including Mexican Cooking. In it, he found a recipe for Mancha Mantel - the 'Tablecloth stainer'. It's a stew of chicken and/or pork with fruit and spices. I was surprised that it wasn't more flavorful - perhaps I didn't add enough salt to bring out all the cinnamon and almond notes - but we were both still happy with the result. We made it with pork only (3 lbs), but below is the original recipe that mixes chicken and pork.

Mancha Mantel
3/4 lb boneless stewing pork
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 lb
3 Tbspn fat or oil
24 almonds
1-2 inches of cinnamon bark
1 1/2 Tbspn sesame seeds
5 ancho chilies
2 medium tomatoes, halved
6 cloves of garlic, with peels still on
1 thick slice of pineapple, cubed
1 small plantain or 1 large slightly unrripe banana, cubed
1 small (1/2 lb) jicama, peeled and cubed
Salt (about 1 Tbspn)
1 cup of peas

Cut the pork into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Put in saucepan with just enough water to cover and a little salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain, keeping the stock. Add more water (or stock) to make 4 cups.

Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces and fry in the oil in a haevy flameproof casserole or dutch oven. Brown a few pieces at a time, then set aside. In the same oil, fry the almonds with their skins, then the cinnamon bark, and then the sesame seeds. Put the almonds, cinnamon, and sesame seeds into a blender. De-seed and de-vein the chilies. In the little oil that's let, fry them too, then add to the blender.

Broil the halved tomatoes until browned, then add to the blender.

Cook the unpeeled garlic in a dry frying pan (no oil) for 10-15 minutes, until the skins are blackened. Peel the garlic and add to the blender.

Using just enough stock to free the blender blades (about 1 1/4 cups), puree everything you've placed in the blender (almonds, cinnamon, sesame seeds, chilies, tomatoes, garlic and stock). Use only as much stock as you need to at this stage to get the mixture to blend. Too much will cause the sauce to be too thin.

Reheat the oil left in the casserole and add the sauce from the blender. Fry for 3-5 minutes, scraping and stirring constantly, until the sauce becomes dark and thick. Add the remaining stock and bring to a simmer. Add the meat, pineapple, plantain and jicama, and salt to taste. Cook gently for at least one hour, until the meat is tender. Add the peas 5 minutes beore serving. Serve with warm tortillas.

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