New Mexican Carne Adovada is a dish that is quintessentially New Mexican although versions have traveled Northward into Colorado where I lived for many years. When cravings for the deep red chili flavor comes on, New Mexican Carne Adovada is how I satisfy it.
New Mexican Carne Adovada is little spiciness balanced by a lot of earthy soul; a touch of vinegar accents those flavors beautifully and rounds it out nicely. Traditionally, Adovada is very simple home cooking, but don’t let that lull you into thinking it’s not one of the best Mexican/Southwestern dishes you’ll ever eat.
About New Mexican Carne Adovada:
There’s a complexity here from the long marination in the sauce, which is basically an Adobo. If you follow me (and if you don’t, I’d love it if you would – see the right-hand sidebar) you’ve heard me talk about Adobo before, in my post about my Adobo seasoning You might also know adobo because of its use in canned Chipotles in Adobo sauce. The difference is, this Adobo tastes so very good and has the signature adobe flavorings of chile spiked with vinegar and the faintest hint of sweet/sour flavors.
And there’s that the long, slow braise that leaves this pork succulent and coated with a caramelized exterior from that Adobo sauce. When your New Mexican Carne Adovada is finished, you’ll have gorgeous chunks of meat that will be all but fall apart tender when gently pressed with your fork. It’s the perfect thing to load into tacos or burritos!
If you’re a lover of Mexican food, you might look at this recipe and think, “Wow, she spelled it wrong!” But no, I didn’t. Typically in New Mexico (which used to be a part of Mexico long ago, right, and only became a state in 1912!) the dish is called Adovada. In Mexico, the dish is similar but there it is usually called Carne Adobada.
Making New Mexican Carne Adovada:
This New Mexican Carne Adovada follows a pretty typical method of toasting the chiles, then deseeding them before adding them to a blender with the other aromatics and spices to form a sauce. And that’s where this takes a left turn from many Mexican dishes. The sauce is poured over the pork and marinated overnight, so plan accordingly.
Then the braise starts, with the Carne Adovada covered at first, then uncovered so that sauce bakes into the meat and caramelizes into just a beautiful thing. Your Adovada recipe should never be complicated. It should be simple and rely on those simple techniques to really drive those flavors home.
I normally serve Adovado with tortillas, either corn or flour and maybe beans and rice and the normal “fixings” but hominy is another time-honored traditional side. If you want to serve my Spicy Pintos, or Doctor up a can of Refrieds that tastes like they came from a restaurant, both would be ideal. I have several Mexican type rice dishes on my side, but I’d go with the Restaurant Style Mexican Rice or even better, a rice cooked with broth so it won’t compete with the flavor of the Adovada.
I really like to use a dry Mexican cheese in these rather than the normal cheddar or cheddar/jack blends you so often see in Southwestern dishes. That shredded cheese just kills the flavor of the Adovada. If you can’t find a Queso Fresco, try a little Feta, just for a bit of an accent.
Saving Money on New Mexican Carne Adovada:
Pork shoulders go on sale so regularly and are one of the most inexpensive proteins. Watch for them to be lowest in the fall or a month or two before any big holiday when ham is served. Hey, they need to do something with everything else on those pigs that give their lives for our Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas ham!
If you have access to a Mexican market, you’ll often find chiles at a lower price than at the basic grocery store.
New Mexican Carne Adovada
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed and meat cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 ounces, about 24 whole, dried New Mexican chiles, rinsed
- 2 cups chicken or beef stock
- 2 large onions, chunked
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
In a large, dry skillet over medium heat, toast chiles, turning often until they begin to expand and soften. Watch carefully and remove immediately if they begin to burn, which will make them bitter.
Let cool, break apart and remove stems and seeds. Add the chiles to blender along with a cup of the stock and puree. Add the remaining ingredients (except pork) and blend until a thick, smooth liquid is formed.
Place pork in a baking dish, pour the sauce over, stirring to coat all the pork, cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300 degrees and bake, covered, until meat is nearly tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. At this point, taste the sauce and add more sugar, salt or vinegar if needed.
Place the dish, uncovered, back into the oven and continue to bake another 30 minutes until sauce is thickened and noticeably darker and the chunks of meat nearly fall apart when gently pressed.
Leftovers are outstanding but reheat gently so as not to toughen meat (defrost setting on a microwave works well.)
You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #39 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!
Click over to our latest Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!
I’m happy to say this dish was featured on Fiesta Friday.