Manchamanteles, literally meaning tablecloth stainer is a type of mole, originating from the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Puebla. As with most moles, manchamenteles is made with dried chiles, nuts and spices, however what makes it unique is that it’s prepared with fruit, giving this savory dish a subtle, sweet finish.
There are tons of versions of manchamantles as its now a dish that is not only prepared in Oaxaca and Puebla, but also in Mexico City, Jalisco and Guerrero. Depending on the recipe the dish can include different combinations of chile ancho, mulato, guajillo y/o chilhuacle. Some recipes use almonds, while other use peanuts and the fruit that is used can also vary with some versions using pineapple, plantains, peaches, jicama and/or pears. This dish is usually prepared with chicken, pork or both depending on the region.
After trying out several recipes and making manchamantles numerous times I have come up with my own version. In my recipe I mostly use the ancho chile which is one of the dried versions of the poblano pepper. As its name implies anchos are one of the larger dried chiles(ancho means wide) and have a delicious slightly sweet, fruity flavor. The other chile that is used is the mulato chile which is also the poblano pepper in its dried form. The difference between the ancho and mulato is related to when they are harvested. Anchos are picked when red, while the mulatos are harvested when the chile has turned a dark brown, giving this chile a slightly smokier flavor. Both of these chiles are relatively mild in terms of spiciness.
In addition to the chiles this recipe calls for sesame seeds and almonds which thicken the sauce, giving it a deeper, richer flavor, while the fried plantains and pineapple add a complementary sweetness.
I always serve this dish with tortillas and its great with sautéed greens and homemade black beans.
Serves 6 portions
- 6 chicken thighs (thighs can be replaced by other pieces of chicken if you prefer)
- 4 medium sized roma tomatoes
- 8 ancho chiles
- 2 mulato chiles
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 inch piece of Mexican cinnamon
- ¼ cup of sesame seeds
- ½ a cup of almonds
- ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
- 3 cloves
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 5 cups of chicken broth
- 2 ripe plantains (the should be nice and brown, but firm)
- ½ of a small to medium sized pineapple
- oil or lard
- sugar (optional)
Clean the chiles with a moist paper towel to remove any dirt. With a pair of cooking sheers cut off the stems and then remove the seeds and veins. Heat two cups of broth with the apple cider vinegar. While the broth is coming to a boil heat oil or lard in a pan and quickly toast the chiles over medium heat. (Note: Be careful because burned chiles will give you a bitter tasting sauce. When the chiles begin to let off their delicious aroma and lighten in color they can be removed from the pan. In my opinion, not so toasted chiles are always better than burned ones).
Turn off the chicken broth/vinegar mixture and add the recently toasted chiles and let sit for about 30 minutes.
While the chiles are soaking, roast the tomatoes and garlic with the skins, on a comal or in a broiler until blackened and set aside.
Bring water to boil in a small pot. Add the almonds and boil for two minutes. Strain and remove the skins. In a medium sized pan heat a little bit of oil or lard, toast the almonds until browned and set aside.
In the same pan toast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently so that they don’t burn and set aside. Then add the oregano, cumin, cloves and cinnamon and toast quickly, adding a little bit more oil or lard if necessary.
Sauté 1 cup of chopped pineapple in the same pan until browned.
Blend the chiles, broth/vinegar mixture, spices, pineapple, sesame seeds, almonds, tomatoes and garlic (Usually you have to do this part in several batches) and strain through a sieve.
In a wide pan or a pot heat lard or oil and brown the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. Add the manchamantles and the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, lower to medium heat, cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
When the chicken has been cooking for about 25 minutes slice the plantains and cut up about two cups of pineapple. Fry the plantains until browned and then sauté the pineapple in a pan without oil until golden.
Serve the chicken with at least a half a cup of sauce and garnish with the plantains and pineapple.