Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carne Adovada, Real New Mexican Food


* We linked this post at Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade *

Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  Probably among the very last places you'd expect to have genuine carne adovada, made with real hatch red chiles (I brought them back with me on my last trip to NM -- that's the kind of chile addict I am).  I was following a recipe I found here, at least approximately.  I had never made carne adovada with smoked pork before, but I will never make it without smoked pork now that I have.  This stuff is GOOD.  Be warned though, it is pretty spicy for those who aren't accustomed to chiles.

Carne adovada is a New Mexican dish consisting of cubes of pork marinated in red chile puree, then smoked and finally slow simmered in red chile sauce until they are fall-apart tender and bursting with chile flavor.  The ingredients are simple, the method is simple, but it does take a few days to do this properly.


Red Chile Marinade:
  1. 25-30 dried red hatch chiles
  2. 8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  3. 1-2 Tbsp Mexican oregano (Greek oregano is fine too)
  4. ~1 tsp sea salt
Remove the stems from the chiles and rinse them clean, then put them in a sauce pan, cover with water (or chicken stock) and boil for about 20 minutes, until they are fairly tender.  Keep the water (stock) from this operation for use later.  The chiles won't be mushy, just flexible and mostly rehydrated.


Chop them into a coarse dice, then add enough of the cooking water to cover them about 1/2-3/4 of the way, add the garlic and oregano, and blend into a puree.  I used my immersion blender and it worked just fine.  We're going for a thick puree here, not a sauce:



Cut your pork into largish pieces (3x3x6 inches, for example) and put them in the marinade.  Make sure they're all well coated, then put this in the fridge for a couple of days to marinate.

Red Chile Sauce:
  1. 25-30 dried red hatch chiles
  2. 4 C. chicken stock
  3. 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  4. 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  5. salt, to taste (about a Tbsp)
You can wait until you're ready to actually cook the meat before you make this part (this will be a couple of days after completing the first step). Add the leftover boiling water from the marinade to the stock, add in the cleaned chiles, and boil until the chiles are supple.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend into a sauce.

Carne Adovada:
  1. 10-12 lb pork butt, bone removed and cut into large chunks (see above)
  2. 1 batch of red chile marinade
  3. 1 batch red chile sauce
Marinate the pork chunks in the marinade for at least 24 hours -- longer is better. When you're ready to cook the meat, prep your smoker or grill for smoking.  I use my kettle grill for quick smoking jobs like this.  To set up a kettle grill for smoking, I put all the coals on one side, put a big log of the smoking wood up against them, and put a pan of water over the top of the coals:



The meat goes on the other side of the log from the coals.  When you have it burning well, put the meat on the grate in a single layer and put the lid on the grill.  Shut the air down to regulate the temperature and produce better smoke -- I keep my vents at about 1/2 for this:



After 6-8 hours of smoking, the meat should be cooked.  You should have a nice layer of smoked chile marinade and a little smoke ring in the meat:


Take it off the grill and cut it into 1 inch cubes:



Add the cubes to a casserole, add the sauce and any extra marinade, cover tightly, and bake at 325 for three to four more hours.  If you have a cast iron dutch oven, you can grill this stew to add extra delicious smoke flavor by stoking the grill fire back up, ensuring there is wood remaining for smoke, and putting the pot on the grate.  The pot should have its lid off for this, and the grill should have the lid on at about the same level it was for smoking.  You'll need to check this periodically to make sure it's not boiling dry, but I guarantee you will not be disappointed by the added flavor!  I did this batch in the oven because I currently can't find my dutch oven (*sigh* -- still unpacking).



To serve, spread a nice homemade tortilla on a plate, scoop out a ladle of carne adovada, some black beans, and some crispy hash browns.  Top it with an over-easy fried egg (I actually forgot this part, as you can see in the picture) and a generous dose of melted sharp cheese.  This was the best carne adovada I've ever had, and I hope it treats you the same way!

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