Carne Adovada

When we were in New Mexico last, it was just a single night’s stopover in Albuquerque.     We made the most of it and tried to find some authentic food and drink in Old Towne.   Maybe we didn’t know where to go, but we had a tough time.  I’ll qualify to say that it was Thanksgiving eve and everything seemed deserted.   We went into one establishment only to be told that we could not just order margaritas.   OK, bring on the chips and salsa.   We left after one round and walked around a bit to finally end up at Back Street Grill.   We were the only couple in the place and we chatted with the waiter/host/bartender a while.   He said their specialty was street tacos so we tried the Carne Adovado tacos with cilantro, cheese, and sour cream and guacamole sauces.

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Street taco menu from Back Street Grill. (I had to take a picture so I wouldn’t forget the name and ingredients.)

They were delicious.     (We washed these down with some Marble brews, another NM treat).

Once I researched how to make carne adovada and that it used dried New Mexican peppers (of which I had a surplus), I decided that this would be a traditional holiday dish for us.   I found this recipe at New Mexico Magazine.   Instead of baking the dish in an oven, I adapted it for a slow cooker.

Carne Adovado
Based on recipe from Tasting New Mexico: Recipes from 100 Years of Distinctive New Mexico Cooking (Museum of New Mexico Press, May 2012), by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.

20–25 whole dried red New Mexican chiles, rinsed (I used 20 “mild” ones and 5 guarillo peppers.)
2 c. chicken stock
4 garlic cloves
2 t.  cider or sherry vinegar
2 t.  crumbled dried Mexican oregano
2 T. olive oil
3 to 3 1/2  lbs. pork shoulder
1 t. salt, or more to taste
2 medium onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place damp chiles in a layer on baking sheet and toast them in oven for about five minutes, until they darken just a shade. Watch chiles carefully because they can scorch quickly. Cool chiles briefly, break each into two or three pieces, and discard stems and most seeds.

PicMonkey Collage

Place approximately half of chiles into a blender with 1 cup of stock. Purée until you have a smooth, thick liquid.  Pour this first batch in the bottom of the slow cooker.   Repeat with remaining pods and stock.   In this second batch, add the garlic, vinegar, and oregano with the peppers and the remaining 1 cup of stock.   Purée until smooth.   Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.   Sear pork shoulder on both sides, browning it.  Season with salt.

Place pork in slow cooker on top of half of the puréed mixture.   Cover pork with the onions and pour on the other half of the puréed mixture.   

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I forgot to puree my oregano so I sprinkled it on top.

Cover and cook until pork is quite tender and sauce has cooked down, about 4-6  hours on low.   (I actually put my pot on high to bring it up to temperature and then I reduce it to low.)

After it is cooked down, let it cool slightly and pull the pork with two forks.   I like to do this in the crock pot so that all that delicious chile flavor is mixed with the pulled pork.

Serve hot with tortillas, avocado, radish, and any other condiments you see fit.

carne adovado

A sprinkling of cilantro would have been good on this, too.

According to Cheryl Alters (the author of this recipe and article):

Carne adovada, as it’s usually spelled today (originally carne adobada), was initially a way to preserve and prepare pork in the winter after hog butchering. Although we no longer have to preserve the meat as was the case a century ago, the hearty braise may still be best this time of year. Carne adovada can be presented on its own, or wrapped in a snowy flour tortilla as a burrito. Some like it as a filling for enchiladas, stuffed sopaipillas, empanadas, or even omelets.

Please note that this is definitely a gringo, non-native New Mexican version.   Real Carne Adovado is braised in the oven. I don’t know if this recipe matches those street tacos at Back Street Grill.  I think it comes close.  Will have to make another trip soon to compare.  If you are in town, check them out:

The Back Street Grill
1918 Old Town Rd, Ste 7
Albuquerque, NM
(505) 842-5434

Some of the other things we saw and did on our short trip in Albuquerque:

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It was just the start of the holiday season when we were there. The crew was just putting up the main tree in Old Towne.


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This Xmas tree is made out of  re-purposed water bottles and lit with blue lights underneath.


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San Felip de Neri, the oldest church in Albuquerque.

And, yes, we are Breaking Bad fans.  We literally stumbled upon The Grove and didn’t realize it was Lydia and Walter’s meeting place until we were actually in line to buy a cupcake.

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World famous.

Finally, we stopped in Guerilla Graphix to continue our Breaking Bad tour.

PD request

These were some coasters we picked up at Guerrilla Graphix.  The Hubs had a great time just casually leaving them around his co-workers cubicles and quads.   They were excited to find them to say the least.

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