Vermicelli with Ancho Chile Sauce

4 servings
  • 4 Ancho chiles, stems, seeds, and veins removed
  • 3/4 to 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • Coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 6 ounces vermicelli nests
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Queso Anejo cheese
  • Green onion sliced on the bias, for garnish
  • Avocado slices
  • Quartered limes

In a nonreactive medium saucepan, cover the chiles with water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let soak until soft, 5 more minutes. Drain, setting aside 1/2 cup of the chile liquid. Pour 1/4 cup of the chicken stock into a blender, add the cloves, garlic and cumin seeds and blend until smooth. Season with salt. Add 1/2 cup more of the stock, the 1/2 cup chile liquid and the drained chiles, a few at a time, and blend until smooth. Add more stock if necessary.

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the pasta and fry turning until it has turned a deep golden color, about 3 minutes (keep nests intact). Strain off excess oil. Add the blended sauce to the pasta in the skillet and fry over moderate heat for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Cover and cook over low heat, adding the remaining stock a little at a time to prevent sticking, until the pasta is just cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cheese and green onion slices. Serve with the avocado slices and lime.

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