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Chicken Stew with Sweet Potato, Pineapple, and Plantains

Chicken Stew with Sweet Potato, Pineapple, and Plantains



Slug Icon WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Rooted in the flavor profile of the classic Oaxacan mole called manchamanteles (literally, “tablecloth stainer”), this spicy, sweet, and savory stew is as flavorful as it is complex. Traditional manchamanteles consists of a vibrant red sauce made from chiles, nuts, and seeds, served over tender pieces of braised chicken, pineapple, plantains, sweet potatoes, and pinto beans. We set out to create a stew that would incorporate each of these elements and bring all of the flavors into focus. To re-create the traditional chile paste for the base of the stew, we ground toasted dried ancho chiles, a portion of our pineapple, onion, toasted peanuts and sesame seeds, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender until we had a smooth, rich puree. Sautéing this mixture before adding the broth gave us a heady medium for braising our chicken, sweet potatoes, and pinto beans. We found that using the oven was an ideal
hands-off method for maintaining a gentle simmer while our stew cooked. Stirring ripe plantains and pieces of pineapple into the finished stew ensured that the tender fruit didn’t turn to mush during cooking. A small amount of red wine vinegar helped to round out the deep chile flavor. If plantains are not available, ripe but firm bananas may be substituted; however, the flavor will be somewhat sweeter.

3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into ½-inch pieces (¾ cup)

4½ cups chicken broth

2 cups ½-inch pineapple pieces

1 onion, quartered

¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, plus extra for serving

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 jalapeño chile, stemmed

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

1 pound sweet potatoes, stripped and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed

4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin
removed, trimmed

2 ripe plantains, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1 inch thick

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4 scallions, sliced thin

1. Alter broiler rack to bring down center position and warmth stove to 300 degrees. Toast anchos in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 6 minutes; transfer to blender. Add ½ cup broth, 1 cup pineapple, onion, peanuts, sesame seeds, garlic, and jalapeño and process until smooth, about 60 seconds.

2. Warmth oil in the now-void pot over medium-high warmth until gleaming.  Add ancho mixture and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened in color and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 4 cups broth, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in sweet potatoes and beans and bring to simmer. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into pot. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until chicken is tender, about 1 hour.
3. Remove pot from oven and transfer chicken to cutting board. Let chicken cool slightly, then, using 2 forks, shred into bite-size pieces; discard bones. Stir shredded chicken, plantains, and remaining 1 cup pineapple into stew and bring to simmer over medium heat. Mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with scallions and extra sesame seeds.

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