- 1 large chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces
- 1 small head of garlic, scored around the middle
- 4 fresh marjoram or oregano sprigs
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt to taste
- 12 chiles guajillos or chilcostles
- 1/2 pound (about 2 small) tomatoes, stewed
- 4 tablespoons melted lard or safflower oil
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole allspice
- 1 medium white onion, thickly sliced
- 9 small garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into thin strips
- 1 small ripe plantain, peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 3 slices French bread
- 1-ounce Mexican chocolate
- 3 cups cooked white rice, seasoned
- 12 corn tortillas, warm
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
Put the chicken into a pan with the coarsely chopped onion, the garlic, and herbs; cover with water and add salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering until the chicken is just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the stems, if any, from the chiles, slit them open, and remove veins and seeds.
Toast the chiles on a hot comale for a few seconds on each side, pressing them down until the inside flesh turns an opaque, tobacco color. Rinse the chiles in cold water, cover with hot water, and set aside to soak for about 15 minutes.
Put the tomatoes into a blender and pulse once or twice. Heat 1 tablespoon of the lard and fry the sesame seeds for a few seconds until a deep golden brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon, draining them as much as possible, to the blender; add the oregano, cloves and allspice and blend until smooth, adding a little more of the water in which the chiles were soaking if necessary.
Add more lard to the pan and heat; add the sliced onion and garlic cloves and fry until translucent.
Add the cinnamon pieces and fry until the onions and garlic are lightly browned.
Transfer with a slotted spoon to the blender. Add the plantain and bread to the pan and fry over low heat until a deep golden color; transfer to the blender. Adding more chile water if necessary, blend until you have a smooth puree. Gradually add the soaked chiles with more water as necessary and blend until smooth. When all the chiles have been blended, dip a spoon into the bottom of the blender jar and take out a sample of the sauce to see if the rather tough chile skins have been blended sufficiently. If not, add a little more water, stir well, and then blend for a few seconds more.
Heat the remaining lard in a heavy pan, add the blended sauce and chocolate, and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, for about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth and the chicken pieces, taste for salt, and cook for 15 minutes more. The sauce should be fairly thick and lightly cover the back of a wooden spoon.
Serve with white rice and tortillas.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings