Once you try this Carne Adovada Recipe, you’ll understand why its one of New Mexico’s most celebrated dishes. If you love New Mexico cuisine, you must learn to make this at home. Amazing in flavor, and one of the easiest braised pork recipes you’ll find.
About This Recipe – Why It Works
It happened sometime between the Cochinita Pibil Enchladas at Bella’s restaurant in Taos and the Carne Adovada Plate at The Shed in Santa Fe, that I knew I had fallen head over heels in love with New Mexico Red Chile Sauce. Red Chile Pork to be exact.
Pieces of lean pork, slow-roasted in a sauce of red chile, garlic and oregano are possibly the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten. Enter my obsession with Carne Adovada.
I’ve had this dish in New Mexico about a dozen times. It’s actually about the only thing I’ll order when traveling there.
Unless I’m at The Shed, then I simply can’t resist their Blue Corn Tortilla Cheese Enchiladas…which, by the way comes served with Carne Adovada.
What is Carne Adovada?
A signature dish of New Mexico, that combines the rich deep Southwestern flavors of red chile sauce with the savory tender pork.
This red chile pork is beautiful as a stand alone dish, and absolutely amazing when used in tacos, enchiladas or burritos.
What Goes Into This Recipe – Ingredients
Carne Adovada marinade and sauce has a beautiful robust deeply flavored red gravy that melts around your tongue with an earthy definitive Southwestern blast. You simly can’t wait to take your next bite.
It’s kind of a “hot but it’s not” experience. It’s divine. And the secret to a good a good Carne Adovada recipe is using New Mexico ground red chile powder. I find this easier and more flavorful than using dried chiles.
This recipe for Carne Adovada is modeled after The Shed’s Recipe, a very popular New Mexican restaurant just off the Plaza.
I have an arsenal of different varities, and I’ve made this pork dish with most of them. But the king of chile powders is New Mexico Chimayo, made from red chiles from the village of Chimayo.
- Onions: Yellow or sweet onions for this recipe.
- Molasses: Use regular molasses rather than black strap. Black strap molasses will impart a slightly stronger and bitter flavor to the sauce.
- Chile Powder: New Mexico Chile Powder is a must to make this an authentic Carne Adovada recipe. The heat level is of that chile powder is up to you. I use a medium heat powder.
- Coriander and Cumin: Go hand in hand in so many New Mexican, Southwestern Recipes.
- Oregano: I highly recommend you use dried Mexican Oregano if you can find it. It carries a more pungent and citrus flavor than regular oregano.
- Flour, Fat and Chicken Broth: to form that beautiful roux for the red chile gravy.
- Pork Loin Roast: Using a pork loin roast, gives us a leaner option, one where the meat will stay in more of a chunk form, nice and tender as it soaks up all of the beautiful flavor from this rich red chile sauce.
- Oil: Used to sear the pork cubes. Use a neutral oil such as canola or vegetable oil.
Recipe Ingredient Swaps
- This recipe calls for thick rich molasses. If you don’t have molasses on hand, use 1 Tablespoon brown sugar. Dark and light will work. Honey is also a good replacement for molasses.
- What if I can’t find New Mexico Chile Powder? I prefer Chimayo Chile Powder. If you simply can’t get your hands on any type of New Mexico Chile Powder, I’d use a very good quality Ancho Chile Powder or dried ancho chiles.
- If you don’t have Mexican Oregano, use marjoram.
- If you don’t have cider vinegar, use sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is discouraged as it would change the flavor profile of Carne Adovada.
- Oil: Use either a mild flavored olive oil.
Mexican Oregano is preferred for this recipe. It’s peppery, grassy, earthy flavor is a good compliment for Mexican Food. If you don’t have Mexican Oregano, substitute Marjoram. Known for its aroma and delicate flavor, its related to oregano and will bring a sweet undertone to any recipe.
How To Make Red Chile Pork
I’ve made this red chile pork recipe about ten times trying to get it just as I remember from my experiences in New Mexico. I’ve studied many recipes to finally come up with a final method I found to be best. Let’s take a look.
- Step 1: Cut the pork loin roast into bite sized pieces. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add oil and brown pork in batches as to not overcrowd. Overcrowding the chunks of pork will steam them as opposed to searing them. Make sure to get a good sear on the outside without cooking through. That sear adds flavor. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Step 2: In the meantime make the rich red chile sauce.
How To Make The Red Chile Sauce, New Mexico Style
- Step 3: Heat a 3-6 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and when melted, saute the onions until tender. This should take about 5 – 7 minutes.
- Step 4: Then add the flour and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes until flour is just starting to toast.
- Add the chicken broth and stir well. Cook for a few minutes to thicken the consistency of gravy.
- Add the Chile Powder, cumin, coriander and oregano. Stir to blend spices.
- Step 7 and 8: Add the molasses and stir to combine until blended.
- Step 9: Add the seared pork back into the sauce.
- Step 10: Stir the sauce and pork together, cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight, or for a least 2 – 3 hours.
- Step 11:Bake covered at 350 degrees for 2 – 3 hours, or until pork is tender. Don’t over cook, pork can become dry.
Some recipes call for the king of braised pork cuts, a pork shoulder roast. A more flavorful cut of meat, and perfect for shredded pork dishes, I found it to return a more “shredded” version than what I was looking for. And being a fattier cut, the sauce was greasier, which meant taking time to strain off the fat before serving. That’s a pain. I suggest a pork loin roast for this recipe.
There’s a splash of vinegar in this recipe, but why? Vinegar is magic. And in my kitchen, it’s as important as salt and pepper. Plain and simple, a splash of vinegar can brighten, balance and sharpen your food.
Absolutely yes. Just place leftovers in an airtight container and freeze. Defrost at room temperature and re-heat stovetop.
Carne Adovada is made with pork and simmered in a New Mexico Red Chile Sauce. Carne Asada is made with steak. Flank steak is commonly used, marinated, and then grilled and served with fresh vegetables such as jalapeno pepper, avocado and lime.
Carne Adovada Tips For Success
- Pat the pork dry before searing. To get a nice golden brown crust on the pork, the dryer the meat, the better the sear.
- Don’t over crowd the pork while searing. Leave some space around each piece of pork to allow air to flow on all sided of the pieces. Over crowding the meat will cause it to steam and the texture will be compromised.
- Spicy or Mild: New Mexico Chile Powder can be hot spicy. Chose a chile powder labeled mild.
New Mexican Carne Adovada Recipe
I hope you give this recipe for Carne Adovada, a New Mexican dish, a try. It’s actually an easy fix for big return on flavor. The key to the unique balance end result flavor is adding vinegar and molasses at the end of the cooking time.
And don’t miss one of the most famous and most popular New Mexico Recipes on my site: Hatch Green Chile Colorado Style.
More New Mexico Recipes
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New Mexico Carne Adovada
- 2 1/2 pounds Pork loin roast cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons neutral oil canola or vegetable oil
- For the gravy
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Flour
- 2 Tablespoons Chile Powder New Mexico Chimayo Red. Add more if you want more heat
- 2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander ground, dried
- 1 teaspoon Oregano Preferably Mexican
- 1 Tablespoons Molasses Not Blackstrap
- 2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar Sherry Vinegar is a good choice here.
- Cut pork loin roast into large bite sized pieces. Salt and pepper to taste.Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add pork pieces and brown on two sides. Cook in batches as not to crowd the pork. The pork will brown better.
- Remove pork to a plate.
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add butter. Once butter bubbles and bubbles start to subside, add onions. Cook onions, stirring, until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. About 1 minute.
- Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes. Add chile powder, chicken broth and cook stirring, until gravy starts to thicken. Add cumin, coriander and oregano. Cook for 1 minutes for flavors to blend.
- Remove from heat and add browned pork.
- Stir well, cover and place in refrigerator to marinade overnight. Or for at least 2 – 3 hours before cooking.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until pork is tender.
- Remove pork from oven and stir in molasses and vinegar.
- Place the lid back on the pot and let it steep for about 15 minutes.
- Serve with lime wedges. Serve with rice, hominy or beans, flour tortillas or all. You can also top with a dollop of Sour Cream and some fresh diced sweet onions.
New Mexico Carne Adovada (pork in red chile sauce) … It’s What’s for Dinner
Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.