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I was reading tygertyger's excellent writeup on New Mexican food and came across an undefined link to carne adobada. Being a newbie, I supplied a one line definition. I was mercilessly downvoted by you stinkin' bastards. A helpful (but really annoying) editor suggested that the write up needed a "recipe" or maybe an "ancedote". I resisted the temptation to say "Ancedote? We don't have ancedotes. We don't need no ancedotes. We don't need to show you any stinkin' ancedotes!", and went and got some recipes. Now, mind you, I've worked in half a dozen Santa Fe restaurants and I have been making carne adovada for over 20 years, and not once have I ever used or even seen a recipe. However, thanks to the power of Google, I now present:

Carne Adovada

Carne adovada (or adobada) is pork marinated in red chile powder. You can also use chicken.

There’s a right way, and then there’s this way:

Bogus Cable TV Pseudo-Mexican Method from Arizona

As seen on Phoenix TV, the Home & Garden Channel, and the Food Network.

(from www.sonorangrill.com)

Carne Adobada Meat marinated in Adobo Sauce

2 TSP Mexican oregano

1/2 TSP Ground Chile de Arbol or Cayenne

1 TSP Salt

1 (4 LB) Boneless pork shoulder, trim fat and cut into large chunks, then brown

24 Guajillo chile pods,

6 C Chicken consommé or chicken broth

4 CLOVES Garlic, minced

  1. Toast the chili pods on a dry comal or iron frying pan until dark brown but not until burnt (if the chilies burn they will become bitter). Remove stems, seeds, and veins.
  2. Break the chilies up and simmer in the chick broth along with the garlic, oregano, Chile de Arbol, and salt for 20 minutes.
  3. Run chilies and broth through the blender 1/2 C at a time. Be careful, the hot liquids expand in a blender and can spill out the top, causing injury.
  4. Pour the sauce through a sieve into a bowl. Work the sauce through the sieve with the back of a spoon, until only the chili solids are left. Discard the chili solids.
  5. Pour sauce over pork in a large heavy Dutch oven or baking dish with lid. Bake covered at 350° for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Remove it from the oven and let it cool to the point where you can handle it. Shred the pork with two forks and mix back into the sauce.
  7. Makes about 3LBS, serve with hot corn tortillas and ice cold Mexican beer.

© Copyright 2002 Mad Coyote Joe, KNXV-TV, and Scripps Howard, Inc.

Note by haze:

Yeah, right. What the fsck is a comal? What is "guajillo" chile? Ya got me. Must be some Arizona thing.

This recipe makes sense if, and only if, you bought a ristra (a string of red chile pods)at the airport and now you want to know, can you actually make food out of these things? Yes, if you’re insane. There’s a reason why nobody in their right mind messes around with dried chile pods. The instruction: “Remove stems, seeds and veins” is a big clue. It's like being stuck in the back of a conversion van with a garbage bag full of ditch weed, and the album cover from Tales from Topographic Oceans... if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, while capsaicin does have medicinal uses, chile is not a controlled substance. You don't have to clean it yourself, like something just smuggled across the border stuck up Mad Coyote Joe's butt in a film cannister. New Mexico producers of red chiles for consumption are masters at curing, drying and grinding the red chile pods into a powder called chile molido. Here in New Mexico, chile molido, along with other spices used in local or Mexican cooking (oregano, cilantro, cumin) are available in large quantities for cheap, in any supermarket. They might also be available in other parts of the USA with large Mexican populations, in stores catering to Mexican cooking or remedios. If you can't get these things for cheap, then there's no point in worrying about how to make carne adovada. Go find a nice Szechuan place.

So what to do with the ristra? Shellac it and nail it to a wall. Dust regularly.

One useful part of this recipe is the advice to simmer chile powder in chicken broth with oregano, salt and cayenne. I would definitely try that if I were making carne adovada with chicken instead of pork.

A Better Way

Here’s a recipe from Los Chileros de nuevo mexico (www.hotchilepepper.com):

Carne Adovada Mix

4 oz. Carne Adovada Mix

24 oz. Pork Steak, cubed

4 cups of water

Combine water and Adovada mix in blender for 30 seconds. In a casserole dish, cover pork with mixture. Cover and marinade for 12 hours. Then place in oven uncovered @ 350 degrees for one hour. The pork will be soft and tender.

Uses: Carne Adovada Mix

© Copyright 1995-2002, Los Chileros de nuevo mexico.

Note by haze:

Ah, much simpler. So what’s in “Carne Adovado Mix”? I dunno. I'd probably get sued if I told you. Mostly chile molido, no doubt.

Note well:(1) chile molido (2) MARINATE, (3) pork "will be" soft and tender.

I prefer slow-cookery in crock pot, combining marinating and cooking into one, fix-and-forget process.

Note on chile: chile from Hatch, NM (the best kind)is hot. Fresh green chile is hotter than the red chile powder used for carne adovada, but the red chile, and hence your adovado, is still darn hot, really hot, turn red and sweat profusely hot.

You can drink copious quantities of beer or ice tea to wash it down, but that won’t help a bit. Grease and honey work better, so restaurants in New Mexico serve, with squeeze bottles of honey, rectangular pastries of deep-fried dough called sopapillas. Yum.

The Authentic New Mexico Way

  1. Get drunk.
  2. Get in car.
  3. Drive to El Modelo Restaurant (On Second, near Bridge).
  4. Buy copious quantities of carne adovada “to go” from natives who really know how to make it.
  5. Buy more beer. Note: since 1994, this step now involves actually getting out of car. It wasn't always like this.
  6. Drive home.
  7. Get drunker.
  8. Nuke carne and present as follows:

Presentation: Carne adovada burrito a la Santa Fe

Burritos (lit. little burro) use soft, white flour tortillas.

Roll up chunks of carne adovada in tortillas, maybe with dabs of sour cream, pour chile sauce over top, sprinkle a handfull of shredded cheddar over top. Broil to melt cheese. Place broiled plate on top of cool plate and serve with warnings that the top plate is hot. (This is very “Santa Fe”)

Garnish with shredded lettuce and minced tomato. Pretentious nouvelle cuisine touch: slap a dab of gaucamole or sour cream on the garnish and poke tortilla chips into the dab, maybe make little eyes with black olives ..whatever artsy-fartsy, limp-wristed Californication of the plate you choose to commit. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food?

Presentation: Carne adovada enchiladas a la Santa Fe

Enchiladas use corn tortillas. Corn tortillas have to be cooked a little. Armando, my Tex-Mex buddy from Laredo by way of Chicago, would set the tortilla directly on a gas stove flame for a few seconds. I fry ’em in olive oil (no more than a half tsp of oil each). Just a few seconds: all you need to do is soften them. If you cook them too long, they get hard and cripsy like Fritos. You can correct for over-crisping by really soaking them in chile sauce, but this is not optimal.

Santa Fe-style enchiladas are flat. Lay the first one flat on your broiler-safe plate or pan. (I use 9x11 cake pans, to contain runaway chile sauce). Spread a layer of carne adoba chunks, maybe some sour cream, and a handful of grated cheese. Repeat once. Broil to melt cheese, garnish as for burrito, serve dangerously hot.

Note: not to be served from McDonald's driveup window to old ladies in sweat pants!!!

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