Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. A few at a time, place chiles on the griddle and let them heat, turning occasionally with tongs, just until any clinging moisture is evaporated and the aroma is released. Allow between 30 seconds for the anchos, slightly less for guajillos (which are very thin-skinned). The chiles should just become dry, hot, and fragrant; do not allow them to start really roasting or they will have a terrible scorched flavor. Remove from the griddle and place in a bowl as they are done, covering generously with boiling water. Let soak for at least 20 minutes.
Grate chocolate coarsely on a straight-sided grater, or break or chop into small pieces. Set aside.
Place sesame seeds in a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and shaking the skillet, just until you see them starting to turn golden. Scrape the seeds out into a small bowl and set aside.
Crush bread into fine crumbs or grind in a food processor. You should have about 1 cup. Set aside.
Grind canela, cloves, and peppercorns together in an electric coffee or spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Drain the soaked chiles and reserve. In a medium-size skillet, heat half the lard over medium heat until rippling. Add ground spices and cook, stirring, just until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, tomato, plantain, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, raisins, and almonds. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
Let the cooked mixture cool for 10 minutes, then place half the mixture in a blender with 1 cup chicken stock and half of the drained chiles. Process to a smooth purée (about 3 minutes on high). Repeat with the remaining sauce mixture, another cup chicken stock, and the remaining chiles.
In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the remaining lard over medium-high heat until rippling. Add the puréed mixture, stirring well to prevent splattering. Stir in the remaining stock a little at a time. Cook covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chiles lose the raw edge of their flavor. Stir in the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chocolate and cook, stirring constantly, until it is well dissolved. Add the salt.
Stir in the shredded meat; cook partly covered, stirring occasionally, just until heated through, 7-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add another pinch or two of salt if desired.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Suggested Wine Pairings: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah
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