Cooking With Clay, Part 6
Yet another of the beautiful cazuelas from the beautiful Christopher Ann made it's way on to my table recently. I don't know if you can quite tell from the photo but this one is huge. And it's shallow so I would think the real advantage would be lots of evaporation for a richer, reduced sauce. The dish gently simmered for several minutes after removing it from heat and placing it on the table. Take chicken thighs and gently poach them in water that's been seasoned with aromatic vegetables like onions, celery, carrot, etc. Allow the cooked thighs to cool in the water (now stock) while you prepare the sauce. The sauce is simple 3 parts Ancho chiles to 1 part Guajillo chiles. After toasting the dry chiles on a comal, soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes. Add the chiles and some soaking water to a blender, along with white onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, clove and Mexican oregano. When well blended, push the thick sauce through a fine mesh sieve with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving behind any seeds or skins. This step isn't necessary if you're using only Anchos, but Guajillo chiles have a thick skin and you really need to do this step. You can also use a food mill. Do this right into the cazuela, or pot you're cooking in, after you heat up a spoonful or so of lard or olive oil. Fry the thick sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly as it splatters. Slowly thin the chile sauce with some of the chicken poaching liquid until you have your desired consistency. Add the poached chicken pieces and allow to cook for about 10 more minutes. Check for salt and splash with pineapple or rice vinegar right before serving. Unlike breasts, thighs are very forgiving so you can leave this to simmer on very low for quite some time. I think bone-in thighs are superior to the boneless variety.