Pork Mole Stew
Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons lard or other cooking fat
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups water
2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
3 large dried Ancho Chiles
Hot water to cover
2 tablespoons lard or other cooking fat, divided
8 raw, unskinned almonds
1/2 large very ripe plantain
2 medium tomatoes, cored and roasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
Heat the 2 tablespoons of lard in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Liberally sprinkle the cubed pork with the salt and pepper add it to the Dutch oven and sear the cubes on all sides until brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, cooking just until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute more, then add the chicken stock and enough of the water to cover the pork. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
While the pork is cooking, begin the mole sauce. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and lightly toast the chilies, turning them from time to time so they do not burn. While they are still pliable, slit them open and remove the stem, seeds and veins. Cover them with hot water and let them soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the same skillet, toast the clove of garlic until golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Halve it, removing any green that may be in the center. Set aside.
4 Add 1 tablespoons of the lard to the skillet and fry the almonds until they are well browned, stirring frequently so they do not burn. Crush them slightly and set aside. Skin the plantain, slice it lengthwise and fry it until golden on both sides.
Place the plantains, almonds and broiled tomatoes into a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth puree add a little water if necessary. Scrape the puree into a small bowl and set aside.
Without washing the mixer or food processor, blend the chilies with ½ cup of the water used to soak them, the spices and garlic to a smooth puree.
Heat the other tablespoon of lard in the skillet and cook the chili puree on high heat about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tomato/plantain mixture and then return to the heat, cooking for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring all the time so it does not stick (be careful, it can spatter about some).
Stir the cup of the chicken broth gradually into the sauce and continue cooking it for a minute or so. At this point you can strain it through a coarse sieve, but if you choose not to, that is fine. It will have a nice, rustic texture if left unstrained. Heat the sauce over low heat, salting to taste, and cook for another 15 minutes.
Once the pork is tender, add the sweet potatoes to the Dutch oven and just enough water to cover, if necessary. Cover the pan and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are almost fork tender. Gently stir in the mole sauce and kale and continue cooking, uncovered, until the kale is wilted and tender, but still slightly chewy, and the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
Serve in bowls garnished with more of the fried plantain, if desired. This can be made ahead and reheated the next day – the flavor will be even better.