photo img_03.jpg  photo img_04.jpg  photo img_06.jpg  photo img_05.jpg  photo img_07.jpg

"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Friday, March 15, 2013

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

This recipe comes from The Food Lab on Serious Eats.  I love this column; it has illuminated so many cooking techniques for me. The author tries many different methods until he gets the perfect result.  This might not be a 100% authentic dish, but it is 100% delicious.  

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Carne Adovada is a dish from New Mexico.  It's pork stewed in a sauce made from dried chilies.  It's not terribly spicy but you get such a rich, warm heat from the chilies and spices.  The combination of chilies actually makes it taste a little chocolatey.  

It takes quite a few ingredients and a little time, but the results are well worth the effort.  Here's what you need:

4 whole dried ancho chilies
4 whole dried pasilla chilies
1 900mL carton chicken stock
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
3 whole chipotle chilies canned in adobo
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions
6 medium cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 bay leaves

Corn tortillas, cilantro, diced onions, lime wedges, and queso fresco for serving 

dried chilis

First, make the chili sauce.  These dried chilies weren't easy to find.  I ended up finding them at my local farmer's market, and I got 5 ancho and 3 pasilla in stead of 4 and 4 as called for in the recipe.  It still worked.  The ancho chilies are short and squat and the pasilla chilies are long and thin.  Remove the stems and seeds from all of them.  This is much easier with the pasillas than the anchos, which crumble a bit.

toast dried chilis

Place the stemmed and seeded chilies in a medium pot over high heat and toast the chilies, stirring, for about a minute.  

Carne Adovada ingredients

Then add the chicken stock, raisins, orange juice, chipotles, vinegar and fish sauce to the pot.

chili broth

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. 

chili broth

After 15 minutes, once the chilies are soft, remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Set aside.

sliced onions

Meanwhile, slice the onions and mince the garlic and set aside.

pork shoulder

Then chop the pork shoulder into 2-inch cubes, trimming excess fat.  Salt the meat.   

dutch oven with oil

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat.

sear pork

Add all the pork and sear without moving for about 8 minutes.  Now this is one of those lessons from The Food Lab.  Normally you'd be told to brown the pork on all sides in batches and not crowd the pan, but his testing shows there's no need to brown all sides of the meat.  A sear on one side adds the flavour we're looking for without drying out the meat.

seared pork

Once browned on one side, remove the meat to a bowl.

onions and garlic

Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook for a few minutes until softened.

oregano, cumin, bay leaves

Add the oregano and cumin to the onions and cook for a minute more.

chili sauce

Then add the chili sauce to the pot, scraping up and brown bits on the bottom.  Add the bay leaves.

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Add the pork back into the pot.

dutch oven

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar, leaving room for some steam to escape.  Simmer for 2 hours.

cheese, cilantro, lime

Before the pork is done cooking, prepare your accompaniments.  

cilantro, green onions

Chop cilantro and green onions together.

queso frescoqueso fresco

Crumble some queso fresco.  I was finally able to find some at a local cheese store.  I've been substituting chèvre but it's not the same at all.  Queso fresco is a bit similar in texture to a dry feta, but a little rubbery and a little sour tasting, while chèvre is more creamy and tangy.  I'm glad I found it; it was a great complement to the pork.  

sliced limes

Slice a lime into wedges.

corn tortillas

Prepare your corn tortillas.  You can make them from scratch like I did or use store bought ones, warmed in the oven. 

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Here's the finished pork.  The sauce should be the consistency of ketchup.  

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

Ladle some pork and sauce onto the tortilla. Top with the cheese, herbs and a squeeze of lime.

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

This was an extremely popular dish at my house.  It's a little bit spicy but mostly just full of rich, warm flavour.  

Carne Adovada (Pork with Red Chilies)

If you can gather the ingredients and have a bit of time, you've gotta try this.  


  1. Did you say you got both the chilies and the queso fresco at SC? I think I'm going to pop into the market over Easter and pick up these ingredients.

  2. Yep. You should! They have big bags of chilies hanging from the ceiling and some min jars behind the counter