Manchamantel, lovingly called “Tablecloth-Stainer”, is often referred to as the 7th of Oaxaca’s 7 Moles. Mexicans from Guadalajara to Chiapas to Central Mexico to the Yucatan disagree with the origins of this dish with equal passion. It’s sweet and sour combination of meat, fruit, chili pepper, with nuts and spices like black pepper, clove, cinnamon, and cumin makes this dish the very definition of a Mole.
Although believed to be a direct descendant of the chili sauce called molli (sauce) by the Nahuatl Indians of the Mesoamerican era (read: really, really old), the more complicated mole (mole-aye) is a Spanish renaming of molli that didn’t re-emerge until the Mexican War of Independence in 1810.
The two states most associated with the origins of mole are Puebla and Oaxaca. The mole from Puebla called mole poblano is considered by many to be national dish of Mexico. Like its cousin mole negro, these dark, rich moles incorporate the chocolate that everyone associates with mole. Most moles don’t include chocolate but all do include different combinations of dried and fresh chilis, ground nuts, and seeds.
Even the simpler moles are a production to make but worth giving a try. Most traditional moles can be easily made with stewed or baked meats, chicken, or turkey. To make a great mole with minimal exertion, high quality homemade mole pastes from Mexico are available online. Manchamantel is a great one to start with and will amaze everyone, whether it stains the tablecloth or not.
Manchamantel Mole- Mild Red Mole with Chicken, Pork, and Fruit
- Food Processor or blender
- Covered Dutch oven or pot
- Mole Sauce
- 4 large Dried ancho chile, tops and seeds removed
- 10 Guajillo chile, tops and seeds removed (or 8 more chile anchos if you can't find Guajillos)
- ⅔ cup Vegetable oil
- 8 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
- 1 large Onion. Unpeeled and cut in half top-to-bottom
- 14 oz Fire roasted peeled tomatoes. One can. Whole or diced and with jalapeno OK.
- 11 oz Can peeled tomatillos or 5 fresh with husks
- ½ tsp Dried Mexican oregano
- ½ tsp Dried thyme
- 3 Bay leaves
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp Ground cloves
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 1½ tbsp Sugar
- 2 Slices firm white bread, broken apart
- Salt and pepper
- Dish Ingredients
- 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and sliced thin
- 3½ lb Cut up chicken pieces, breast halves halved
- ⅓ cup Vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1½ lb Boneless pork shoulder, 2-inch cubes
- 3 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 2 Large green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
- 2 cups Fresh pineapple, cut into 1½-inch chunks
- If using pre-made Mole paste, skip the "Prepare Chiles" and "Prepare Vegetables" steps below.Prepare Chiles – Boil some water. Tear peppers into flat pieces and toast them in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Press them down for a few seconds then flip. Do the same thing on the other side. When they begin to smell and change color, remove and toss in a bowl. When all done, pour boiling water over them and cover with a small plate to keep submerged. Soak for 30 minutes while preparing the vegetables.
- Prepare Vegetables – Peel 2 of the garlic cloves, peel, slice and put aside. Roast the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves in the same skillet with unpeeled onion halves cut-side down over medium-low heat. Turn frequently. Remove garlic cloves after 8-10 minutes to cool slightly. Let onions cook for another 10-12 minutes and remove to cool. When cool enough to handle, lightly scrape char off exposed part of onion and peel both garlic and onion over a bowl. Place peeled garlic, onion and any juices into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add tomatoes and tomatillos with juices to same bowl. Drain chilies and add. Add in 1 cup water and bread pieces. Process on high until a smooth paste forms. Scraping down the sides occasionally. Strain into a bowl using a wooden spoon to extract as much paste as possible.
- Cooking the Meats – Salt and pepper meat and chicken pieces. Heat ⅓ cup oil over medium-high heat in a large lidded Dutch oven or casserole. Starting with the pork cubes, brown uncrowded about 2 minutes per side. Remove browned pieces to a separate bowl. When done with pork pieces, add chicken in single, uncrowded layers and brown 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside with pork.
- Making the Sauce – Add 2 tbsp oil to same pot over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and lightly brown but don't burn, around 1-2 minutes. Remove and discard. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, ground black pepper, oregano and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Turn up heat to medium high and pour in chile-tomato mixture and 2 cups water. Scrape bits from bottom and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes to blend flavors.
- Finishing the Dish – Stir in pineapple chunks and pork cubes and simmer, covered, 15 minute over low heat. Return chicken to pot along with apple wedges and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes more. Remove bay leaves and stir in sugar and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve on dinner plates with corn tortillas on the side.