Mexican Beef Stew
On the Isthmus, it is still the custom to cook the meat from an entire cow overnight in jarros, which are large ceramic pots, in backyard ovens. The result of the long, slow-cooking process is a meltingly tender stew of meat and vegetables, best scooped up with tortillas.
5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
3/4 tbsp. ground Mexican cinnamon
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small tart green apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
3 ripe plantains, peeled and finely chopped
5 bay leaves, crumbled
2 1/2 lbs. boneless chuck (or round), cut into 2'' pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup lard, melted
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1-2 tbsp. sugar
16-24 corn tortillas, warmed
1. Rinse guajillo and ancho chiles. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add chiles, and cook, turning, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Transfer chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water, and soak until soft, about 25 minutes. Drain chiles and remove and discard stems and seeds. (It is best to wear rubber gloves when handling chiles because oils can irritate skin.)
2. Place chiles in a blender. Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water. Purée until smooth. Press through a sieve into a bowl.
3. Preheat oven to 275°. Mix together tomatoes, onions, apple, pineapple, plantains, and bay leaves in a bowl. Season beef with salt and pepper. Place about one-third of the beef in a 4-quart dutch oven. Top with one-third of the tomato mixture, then one-third of the chile purée. Repeat layering with remaining beef, tomato mixture, and chile purée. Pour lard on top, cover, and cook in the oven, stirring occasionally, until beef breaks down, about 8 hours. Stir in bread crumbs and sugar. Serve warm with tortillas.