One of my new obsessions is Carne Adovada. Carne adovada is cuts of pork that has simmered in red chile for several hours. It’s so flavorful you could eat it straight out of the bowl by itself. However, most of the time it’s used as a filling for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chimichangas or sopaipillas. Every time Joe and I go out for Mexican food, I try both red and green chile which is referred to as “Christmas” so that I can find the best tasting red and green chile around town. One of the most memorable meals we had this summer was at Little Anitas, a family owned retaurant that’s been around for 40 years. I ordered the carne adovada chimichanga smothered with both red and green chile. I can’t say enough about how much I loved their chimi. The meat was so flavorful and tender, however it was milder than it appeared. Every bite was enhanced by the combination of red and green chile with melting cheese. I couldn’t wait to come home and jot down some notes on what I tasted and what made it taste so good. I first made a sauce with just NM red chile pods which is the traditional way but it turned out way too spicy for this girl. Then I made a sauce with half NM red chiles and half Guajillo chiles. The heat of the sauce was still a bit on the hot side but it turned out to be our sauce of choice. I think if you like red chile sauce, it’s fun to mix and match the dried chiles to get different flavors. For example I have always loved the taste of Ancho chiles and still to this day add them to some recipes. The color of the sauce will vary because of the colors of the dried chiles. Anchos are very tasty but make a very dark red, almost rusty red sauce. I made a big batch so that we could eat what we wanted and freeze the rest. Any leftover carne adovada and sauce will freeze well and make an easy meal next time those cravings kick in.
Reserve 2 cups of the chile liquid and add 2 teaspoons of “Better than Bouillon” chicken base. Place the steeped chiles in a blender and add the 2 cups of liquid with chicken base. Note: you can substitute ready made stock if you like.
Pour 2 cups of the red chile over the pork and stir until all pieces are completely saturated in the sauce. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven for 3 hours. Stir the pork every hour or so. When the pork it fork tender and will pull apart easily, it is done. The sauce may be thin from the excess juices of the pork. If this is the case, remove the lid from the dutch oven and cook an additional 15 – 20 minutes. The sauce should thicken considerably and stick to the pork. Any leftover sauce can be used for enchiladas, or to smother burritos, chimichangas or stuffed sopaipillas.
3 – 3 1/2
15 – 20 dried NM Red Chile Pods (may substitute or mix and match with Guajillo, Pasilla, or Ancho Chiles)
2 cups Chicken Broth or Water (I used 2 cups reserved chile water with 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican Oregano
2 teaspoons Cider or Sherry Vinegar
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
Salt to taste
Cut the pork into big chunks. Set aside
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place dried chiles on a baking sheet, approximately 15 – 20 pods. Bake for 3 – 5 minutes, just until chiles become fragrant.
Remove chiles to a 3 quart saucepot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let steep for 15 – 20 minutes. Drain chiles reserving the liquid. Place chiles in a blender along with 2 cups of broth or chile water with Better than Bouillon chicken base. Add onion, garlic, vinegar and Mexican oregano. Puree the mixture until it becomes a thick sauce. Strain the excess seeds and peel, leaving behind approximately 4 cups of sauce.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place chunks of pork in a 5 quart dutch oven and add 2 cups of red chile sauce. Stir the pot until all of the pork is saturated with red chile sauce on all sides. Place a lid on top and place in the oven, stirring every hour for a total of 3 hours. When the pork it fork tender and will easily pull apart it is done. If the sauce is watery, remove the lid and let cook an additional 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce thickens and appears darker in color.
Use any remaining red sauce to smother enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas or stuffed sopapaillas.
Serve carne adovada with tortillas or use as a filler for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chimichangas or sopapaillas.
Serves 10 – 12