Champandongo – A Novel Little Latino Lasagne

Here’s this weeks recipe. Tasked with finding something relevant to this week’s blog theme of travel writing, I remembered a novel I studied at university containing recipes at the start of each chapter. Como agua para chocolate (Like water for chocolate) is a satisfying little read written by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel in 1989. This recipe is one of the most interesting included. A few difficult ingredients to get your mits on, but please don’t let that put you off chicos.

1 lb./450g minced beef
1 lb./450g minced pork
7 oz./200g walnuts, chopped in small pieces (not ground)
7 oz./200g almonds, chopped in small pieces (not ground)
1 onion, chopped
1 candied citron or juice of an orange
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup molé sauce (some markets stock it)
1-2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lb. tortillas
1/4 cup cream
8 oz. Manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

Make your Mole first, as this has many ingredients and may take a while unless you find a pre-made version.

Sauté onion in large pan with several tablespoons oil. Once onion is translucent, add beef and pork. Sprinkle meat and onion mixture with cumin and sugar. Once beef and pork are golden brown, add tomatoes, nuts and the citron.

Meanwhile, as meat is browning, add molé into the chicken stock and stir constantly until molé has a thick, soupy consistency. Heat tortillas in 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan, and stack to one side.

Spread the cream on the bottom of a large, glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of tortillas, then a layer of the meat mixture, then a coating of molé, and finally the cheese. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until the dish is filled. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the tortillas are softened.  About 15 min.  Slice into squares and serve immediately, perhaps with re-fried beans and a cheeky salad.


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