Carne Adovada: Braised New Mexico-Style Pork in Red Chile Sauce

Chris Allingham

Staff member
A few members many years ago were posting about carne adovada in the Barbecuing forum. It's a great use for pork butt if you have a spare 4-5 pound one put back in your freezer and you're looking for something to do with it other than barbecue it.

This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen on PBS, Season 19, "Latin Comfort Food".

Here's a link to their video:

  • 3.5- to 4-pound boneless pork butt, trimmed of fat and cut into 1.5" pieces
  • 4 oz dried New Mexico chilies, wiped clean, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • I have used a 5.5 pound bone-in pork butt, which I deboned, defatted, and cut into 1.5" pieces and it did not overwhelm the amount of sauce made by this recipe.
  • I like to use kitchen shears to cut off the tops of the chiles, cut them down one side to open them up, remove all seeds, then cut into 1" pieces.
  • The first time I made this recipe, I used guajillo chiles from Penzey's Spices, a popular chile in Mexican dishes. Then I bought real New Mexico dried red chiles while passing through Albuquerque...and I couldn't taste the difference. Then I found both guajillo and New Mexico chiles at one of my local supermarkets! So just keep looking around, you'll find one of these two chiles somewhere.

Place pork pieces in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, stir to distribute the salt and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place chile piece in a medium bowl. Add boiling water to chiles, stir, making sure chiles are submerged. Let chiles steep for 30 minutes.

While chiles are rehydrating, move oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325*F.

Once the chiles have finished rehydrating, reserve 2 cups of the hot steeping liquid. Drain the chiles and discard the remaining liquid.

Place chiles, honey, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, cloves, and 1 teaspoons kosher salt into the blender. Process into a thick paste until chiles are finely ground, about 30 seconds. With blender running, add 1 cup of the reserved liquid and process for 2 minutes until smooth, adding an additional 1/4 cup of liquid if necessary to maintain the blender vortex. Finally, add the remaining reserved liquid and process on high speed for 1 minute.

Place the pork pieces in a Dutch oven, add the chile sauce, and stir to coat the pork. Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Place lid on the Dutch oven and move it into the oven and cook until pork is fork-tender, about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Use a wooden spoon to scrape any dried bits off the walls of the Dutch oven into the chile sauce. Stir to combine sauce and pork. Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes. Check for salt and add more to taste. Serve with lime wedges. I like to serve with rice and tortillas.

Looks tasty. I made this dish a couple years ago with a recipe from Milk Street, the competitor created by Christopher Kimball when he and CI broke up. Turned out pretty good.

You mentioned the pepper choices. Here is what Milk Street said about that:
Tip: Don’t use just one type of dried chili. New Mexico chilies provide a mild earthiness and subtle sweetness, while guajillos add a fruity quality and hints of smoke; the combination gives this stew a deep, complex flavor.
I'm not sure I could tell the difference. I made carne guisada (recipe in Texas Monthly) recently with the New Mexico peppers (which were less expensive) and didn't notice much difference from the time I made it with guajillos.

We enjoyed both dishes with Tortilla Land Tortillas, which come raw and can be cooked in a couple minutes in a dry skillet or (better) on the grill. They're in the refrigerated section.

I just watched your related video of how not to debone a pork butt.

I laughed out loud a few times, and I'm sure I could do no better.

The sped up parts needed some Benny Hill music. :)

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Chris, I watched the video this morning and I’m glad that you posted that! You did pretty well for a first time project. Now, try to bone out a whole chicken in one piece, that will make you think that the butt was simple!