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Carne Adovada

May 14th, 2007 | 12 Comments »


I could perhaps subtitle this post “The Wait Coulda Killed Me” to get the point across that this dish takes time, people. The particular recipe I followed said to marinate the meat for 48 hours. That’s one heckuva long time to wait for something so good.

But it was worth it. Woweeee…. was it worth it.

Other recipes call for a 24 hour marinating period. The next time (heavy emphasis on ‘next time’ because it was THAT good!) I will only allow it to languish in its spicy and nose numbing marinade for a day before sending it off to the slow cooker. I can’t wait that long again for this delight.

Carne Adovada is described as ‘traditional New Mexicao pork in adobo sauce’. I found the recipe in a long forgotten cookbook that Mike had when we married called ‘Sante Fe Hot and Spicy- Hot New Recipes from Santa Fe Chefs’. On the back of the book it says “Attention Chile lovers, if you like fiery food, here’s the book for you, Kate and Mike.” All right, no, it doesn’t have our names on it, but it seems to be geared towards our culinary tastes so I took a generous creative leap there. This multi step recipe first has you create a simply eye watering concoction of dried chile peppers with various and sundry other items that you simmer in a pot and then put through a food processor, turning it into a rich, thick sauce that you pour over cubed pork shoulder and allow it sit for two days. Once it has sufficiently soaked up all that capsaicin, you cook it slowly until it is meltingly tender and so aromatic that it drives you just plain mad in your quest to stuff it shamelessly into your mouth; rich sauce dripping down your chin.

I admit that, yes, I did this. No apologies either. No one saw me so it doesn’t count.

I expected that the finished product would be blazingly hot, but what I tasted was a pleasant zing that left my mouth tingly but still with all its nerve endings intact. The meat….oh, that meat was so achingly tender that it simply broke into great slivers in my mouth as easily as an empty egg shell cracks under pressure. One could just push an errant finger into a large chunk and it would break apart; no knife, no fork or even a spoon was needed. With our homemade tortillas, some cheese and shredded lettuce, it was a meal that caused us all to swoon in delight. My sweet little carnivore had salivated over it all afternoon and was joyously rewarded with an intense protein high after two good sized burritos. Feed him meat and he’s all yours. He even mowed the lawn and whacked the weeds around the whole house without any complaint because HE KNEW what was for dinner. Meat+Mom= Griffin Love.

I followed the chile sauce recipe fairly closely, using Ancho and New Mexico dried chiles. The processing of the solids is very messy…..don’t wear good clothes and go in batches. You will need to strain out all the chile skins and any seeds that get into it. I had my meat all cut up and strained the sauce right into the pan with the meat. Still, I made an all encompassing mess, splattering my counter tops with red splotches that made my dish rag look like it had been used to clean up a murder scene. Thank goodness for bleach. I actually had the bright idea of putting the meat into a crockpot liner to marinate, which then went seamlessly into the crockpot to cook when it was ready. Sometimes my brilliancy amazes me. When it came time to put it all together, I left out the extras to go in the marinade as I wanted it to be mild enough for Griffin to eat. Follow the recipe, or sub in what amounts you are comfortable with, but if this is something you think you would love to death, please do yourself a favor and make it. You will not be disappointed at all.

Red Chile Sauce
3/4# dried chile peppers; ancho, New Mexico, guajillo…..you pick your heat level.
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, smashed with skins removed
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt

De-stem and de-seed chile peppers; place in large stock pot and cover with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pot, bring to a boil then simmer over low heat for half an hour. Drain off solids, reserve liquid. Allow to cool slightly, then process solids in batches in a food processor using reserve liquid for proper consistency. Strain through a wire sieve, pressing on the solids to extract the liquids. This should make about a quart.

Carne Adovada
3-4 pounds pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1/2″ cubes and trimmed of most fat.
4 c. Red Chile Sauce (just use the amount a batch would make)
2 New Mexico dried chile peppers, destemmed, deseeded and crumbled
4 t. red pepper flakes
2 sticks cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in glass bowl and stir to mix. Cover and chill for 24-48 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon before cooking. Cooking method: This can be done in a crockpot on medium for about 4 hours or low for longer; it also can be brought to a boil on the stove then transferred to a 350 degree oven and baked, covered, for 2 hours.

NOTE: When the meat is done, plenty of liquid will be in the pot with any fat that cooked off. Allow the meat to sit and cool, then pour off the thin liquid that has accumulated, leaving the solids in with the meat. If you chill it thoroughly, the fat will be easier to remove. This step is entirely optional if the fat content does not bother you.

Serve with tortillas, avocado, shredded lettuce, cheese etc…… or simply grab a spoon and shovel it in.

12 responses to “Carne Adovada”

  1. Bud says:

    I’m gonna try this one this week. They had pork shoulder steaks for $1 pound (and saves me half the cubing work!). What intrigued me about this one was the cinnamon. But, I need more chiles, so can’t start tonight…

  2. John says:

    This was a favorite of mine when my Wife and I were living in Santa Fe. The Carne Adovada at Maria’s is not to be missed (nor are their Margaritas!!). I always make this for our pitch in lunches at work and now have people ask about it weeks in advance!

  3. […] as many takes on carne adovada as there are cooks. They range from fairly complex [like one from Kate in the Kitchen that has you make your own adobo sauce from dried chiles] to overly simple. One version from a […]

  4. […] as many takes on carne adovada as there are cooks. They range from fairly complex [like one from Kate in the Kitchen that has you make your own adobo sauce from dried chiles] to overly simple. One version from a […]

  5. michael says:

    i live in clovis new mexico. there a small restaraunt here called espiega they make the best burritos you could ever get and HUGE for 5 dollars. there carne adovada is some of the best ive ever had carne asada is delicious too. and judging by the picture it was doen perfectly i think im going to go get a burrito right now.

  6. Chris says:

    I’m having a little trouble reading your recipe (it may be my computer…)– how many dried chile peppers for the sauce? My computer screen reads “3/4 #”– is that correct? If you mean three or four peppers in number, that wouldn’t merit a large stockpot, would it?

  7. Toby says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes; known simply as Asado in Carlsbad, NM. cilantro is a popular herb here and is substituted for the oregano in this dish.

    This is definably an addictive dish. 🙂

  8. Julie says:

    Wow, I used this recipe on Memorial day and it was just as amazing as you said it was. I just came back to get the recipe again so I can make it again this weekend.

  9. Lisa says:

    You’re killing me here! Wowie, does that look and sound fantastic. A must-try.

  10. Marce says:

    you totally have me on this one, going to my to-cook list right now, though I might have to reduce the heat a bit since I´m quite the chicken when it comes to hot foods. What I like about the recipe, besides the tenderness of the meat, is that it doesn´t have weird ingredients at all, so I can actually make it here.
    Thanks for the recipe, I´ll let you know when I try it.

  11. Joo says:

    I could almost taste that and won’t be satisfied until I actually do. Thanks for sharing.

  12. rileytiki says:

    We tagged you for the 7 Random facts meme. Come on over if you want to play.