Jul 26, 2010

Carne adovada

I'm not sure why I haven't written this up yet, but it's well past due.

Carne adovada.

As far as I can tell, this is a pretty localized dish from north-central New Mexico but has migrated out a bit.  Sadie's used to be the standard.  Back when it was a little hole above a bowling alley the food was so good that it got in the way of bowlers on a good night.  Then they actually bought a full space and it was still good.  But I haven't had theirs in years and I've had to make do with my own.

The basics are simple: you're going to make pork as hot as you can with a red paste or sauce and then, pretty much invariably, add raw onions.  Huntley Dent has done his research and has broken down the basic dish into two categories: wet and dry.  Wet means a nice red sauce that can be eaten with tortillas; dry is more of a rub than a sauce and is meant mainly for the meat itself and not as a sauce.

But there are many more variations.  Is your pork (and it's always pork) sliced thin or cubed (1-2 inches isn't uncommon)?  Does the flavor come from the sauce or the meat?  Do you spice it or just let the chili speak for itself?

If I'm at a diner in, say, Espanola, I'll take cubed any time.  I don't know what they do to it to make the flavor permeate and I'd rather not speculate.  But a breakfast with carne adovada, hash browns, and tortillas is to die for if you find the right place.

But.  If you're doing it yourself, here's a basic recipe for a wet, thin-sliced dish best served with tortillas.

In a food processor, combine:
  • 1 medium onion
  • Several pinches of cumin
  • Double the cumin with oregano
  • 3 generous tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 1 package of hot to very hot chile powder, preferably Chimayo but any will do if it comes to it
  • Cayenne if you want more heat
  • Water until you have a paste
And then slice your pork.  Thin, please.  Something like 1/8th inch.

Also, onions.  Sweet is good here, so if you can get vidalias, good.  Otherwise standard yellows are fine and whites are okish if you're going for maximal effect of the hot.

Layer the pork slices, then onion, then sauce in a baking dish (pyrex is best here).  A second layer is great.

And then let that sit.  For at least 12 hours.  Preferably more.

To finish it, bake covered in foil at about 325 for half an hour then remove the foil and return to the oven for another half hour.

Shred both the pork and the onions and serve that in flour tortillas with cilantro and whatever else you'd like in the mix.  Pico de gallo is good here.  And if you did it right, have water on hand.  Lots of water.

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