Manchamanteles (Chile-Fruit Mole)

This type of mole, manchamanteles, (or “tablecloth-stainer”) is named for the vibrant chile and fruit color — and the mess that can come from digging in to the finished dish. The rich fruit flavor is a natural fit with turkey, like cranberry sauce, and it makes a great braising sauce for a variety of meats.

Makes about 7 cups

2 Ripe medium plum tomatoes
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 1/4 lbs White onion
1 tsp Dried oregano
1/2 tsp Ground cumin
1/2 cup Ancho chile paste
6 cups Homemade or store bought chicken broth
1 can (20 oz) Crushed pineapple (with juice)
4 oz Mango (peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice)
1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground clove
1/4 tsp Ground allspice
1/4 tsp Ground ginger
1/4 tsp Freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt or fine sea salt
4 oz Dried apricots

Core the tomatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Heat a small, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the tomatoes skin side down and cook, turning once, until charred on most of both sides, about 8 minutes. Set them aside.

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they just begin to take on some color, about 8 minutes. Add the oregano and continue cooking until the onions are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin, then the ancho paste. Keep stirring and cooking until the onions are coated with the chile paste. Stir in 6 cups broth and heat to boiling, then slip in the charred tomatoes. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook until the onions are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, blend the sauce base until smooth. To avoid splattering, either cool the sauce to tepid or work in very small batches and/or use a folded-up kitchen towel to clamp the lid to the blender while it’s running. Rinse out the pot.

Return the sauce base to the pot. Stir in the pineapple with its juice, the mango, apricot, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and black pepper. Season lightly with salt and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and takes on a nice shine, about 20 minutes. The sauce may be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

* Ancho chile paste is traditionally made by toasting dried ancho chiles until softened, seeding them and pureeing the chile until very smooth. After pureeing, the paste is pushed through a fine sieve to remove all traces of skin and any stray seeds. The new tradition in my kitchen is to order ancho paste online. Alternatively, substitute dried ancho chiles for the paste: Lightly toast 6 to 8 dried ancho chiles in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat just until they change color and smell wonderful, about 1 minute per side. Pull out the stems and tap out the seeds. Put the toasted chiles in a large bowl and pour in enough hot water to cover them. Weight them with a plate to keep them submerged and soak them until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain them thoroughly, tear them into large pieces, and put them in a blender jar. Blend, adding just enough fresh water to make a very coarse puree. Any seeds and skins you may have missed will be strained out of the sauce before adding the fruit.