Carne 'Adobada' (or 'adovada') is a regional New Mexican specialty, combining pork shoulder with dried New Mexican chiles in a 'guisado' or slow-simmered stew. Perfect comfort food for colder weather, when you want the kitchen to be a warm sanctuary, smelling amazing for hours. Serve with tortillas, fried potatoes, or rice & beans. Fresh cilantro would also be delicious added to the bowl at serving.
Prep time: ~30-40 min.
Cooking time 2 1/2+ hours
3# pork butt/shoulder, cubed into ~2” pieces
Smoked salt or kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 T. vegetable or olive oil
8-10 dried New Mexican red chiles, de-stemmed, de-seeded & toasted (&/or chipotles in adobo sauce)
1 med. yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. achiote paste (optional)
2 T. smoked paprika (or ancho or pasilla chile powder), toasted
1 T. ground cumin, toasted
1/2 T. Mexican oregano, crumbled between fingers
1 t. dried orange peel
3 T. raisins (or dried cherries or craisins)
2 T. tomato paste/sauce
1/2 C. mango nectar (or orange juice)
1/2 C. beer, any type
1 T. red Wine Vinegar
2 ea. bay leaf
2 t. fish sauce (optional)
Water or stock (beef/pork/chicken stock all OK), as needed
Step 1: Cover the toasted, dried chile pods in very hot water & weigh down with a small plate to keep submerged. Soak while you are prepping/browning the pork & spices.
Step 2: Season the pork with a light amount of salt & pepper. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed skillet (I used 2 to have more surface area to work with) & brown the pork chunks on 1 or 2 sides (if you try to brown all sides, it can actually toughen the meat, counterintuitively.) As the pork gets browned, place the pieces in a medium-large sauce pan or stockpot. Continue this process until all pork is browned and in the larger pot. [Pro tip: Don’t clean out the pork-browning pans yet.. you definitely want that goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan!]
Step 3: Place the same pan(s) you browned the pork in back on medium heat, add a little bit of oil, the onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Add paprika, achiote, cumin, oregano, orange peel, and raisins (or cherries.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are well-browned. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula as you stir, to loosen up the good bits.
Step 4: Add tomato paste to the onions and stir it in.. this will be very sticky and not necessarily looking amazing at this point.. Keep going, it will improve.
Add mango nectar, beer & vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping all of the bits up. (Careful not to inhale too much right now!) Once bottom of pan is scraped, add all of the onion/spice mixture (it will be a sludgy mess at this point) to the pork pieces. Add bay leaves & optional fish sauce. Set aside.
Step 5: Put soaked chile pods & soaking liquid to cover in blender. Secure lid & blend on medium-high speed until fairly smooth. (A few small chunks in there are OK.)
Pour this chile puree over the pork pieces. Add water or stock to cover the pork. Stir well & place on medium-low heat. Cover & bring up to a slow simmer, stirring frequently (it can scorch at this point if you aren’t careful.) Once it’s simmering, turn down to low heat, replace cover and let simmer until pork is getting somewhat tender (~1 1/2 hours.)
Step 6: Once pork is getting close to tender (appx. 1 1/2 hours of simmering) remove lid and let the liquid start reducing. Stir often to make sure the pork isn’t sticking. Let simmer until sauce is thickened to a nice stewy consistency. This might take another hour+. Taste the sauce once it seems thickened and adjust seasoning with salt & pepper (and more fish sauce if you want!) Enjoy!