In the Acknowledgments for Swordspoint
I thank “Mimi Panitch for unplugging the telephone
and inventing Writer’s Stew.”
Mimi is an old college friend, and one of the crowd who
lived in the sprawling crumbly old apartment on West110th
Street while I was writing my first novel . . . and writing
. . . and writing . . . .
Mimi knew I’d never finish unless someone took
action. I needed silence and I needed sustenance. So she
did two things for which I am forever grateful. She denied
me my chief source of distraction, and she made a truly
gigantic pot of stew.
Here’s her recipe:
This is really a formula rather than a recipe. The original
is "Mole de Olla" from Diana Kennedy's The Cuisines
of Mexico. I'll try to point out the variations I use
as I go:
3 pounds chicken or turkey or beef (The
original calls for pork, but in fact just about any stewable
meat or poultry will work. Although I wouldn't try it
4 chiles anchos
4 chiles pasilla
1 cup tomatillos, drained
2 cloves garlic
a pinch of cumin seeds
1/2 pound zucchini
1/4 pound green beans
1 ear of corn
salt as necessary
Take whatever meat or poultry you've selected, put it
in a soup pot,
cover it with water, and simmer until tender. How long
this will take depends, of course, on what's in that pot.
While it's simmering, heat a heavy frying pan and toast
the chiles on it. They will soften up a little and begin
to smell good. Keep turning them, and don't let them burn.
Take them off the skillet, and when they're cool enough
to handle, remove the seeds and veins and put them in
the blender along with the onion, garlic, cumin seeds,
and tomatillos. Blend the whole thing until it's smooth.
Put a little oil into the skillet and fry this sauce for
a few minutes. Then, when the meat/poultry is tender,
add the finished sauce to the pot.
Let all this cook together for a few minutes while you
assorted vegetables. Then toss them all in and let them
cook in the soup/stew until they're edible. (Potatoes
first, because they take the longest, right?)