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it’s getting hot in here

Recipe: carne adovada

I didn’t always like to make food from scratch, you know. I was perfectly happy living in So Cal and paying for truly excellent food over 15 years ago. It was authentic, delicious, and cheap. When I moved away from So Cal to go to graduate school, I moved away from great ethnic food. So I began learning to make it myself. By the time we returned to So Cal, I viewed food differently than before. I tasted everything we ate with a running mental analysis of the flavors, the ingredients, the preparation, and how I could make it at home. At some point, I had crossed the barrier that always led me to believe a dish was out of my reach. No longer!

Now that we’ve moved to a small mountain town, I’m stuck craving those fantastic ethnic foods again. But now, I am eager to try making them at home, and perfecting them.

When my in-laws lived in New Mexico, we used to visit and drop by El Modelo for amazing New Mexican fare. One of my favorites was their carne adovada. I mean, how can I not love pork – I’m Chinese and I grew up in the South, so there is a double whammy right there!

my second-favorite product of new mexico: red chiles
my favorite being jeremy

Over the years, I have collected a few Mexican cookbooks, and when I say Mexican, I really mean New Mexican. There is a difference. You should have seen the way Jeremy’s eyes lit up when I told him I was going to make carne adovada. [Oh, but his eyes light up like that when I make anything with chocolate or coffee too.] It is one of his favorites from his home state.

bake and deseed the pods

soak in boiling hot water

The directions said to bake the chile pods for a few minutes and warned against breathing in the fumes. No kidding! I ran the exhaust fan just to be safe. And just the voice of experience here… it helps to wear gloves when handling the chiles unless you want to wash your hands repeatedly and then scratch your nostril and then experience the sensation of Burning Nostril for the next hour.

garlic, oregano, salt, chiles, some chile water

this purée is sheer beauty

Carne adovada is a spicy dish. I guess the spiciness depends on how spicy your chiles are. Now, I love spicy, as in “mouth on fire” spicy (I’m Chinese, what can I say!). This spicy isn’t that hot as opposed to full of spice – it tastes like chiles. Does that make sense? I love how the flavor infiltrates every bite of tender pork.

cut the pork intro strips

I used pork loin because the recipe said to use a tender cut. My brain was on vacay, because if you bake any cut for 4 hours, it’s going to become tender whether it was to begin with or not. If you like white meat, go for the pork loin. Me – I prefer the juicy dark meat. I love a hunk of pork shoulder cooked for hours on end, rendered “fall apart” tender. It has so much more flavor, in my opinion. I’ll make a note to do that in the future. The recipe actually takes 2 days because the pork marinates in the chile purée for 24 hours. Don’t skimp on the time – it’s worth it to let it go for 24 hours.

ready to bake

When the pork came out of the oven, I shredded it with two forks. Can’t help it, it’s the Southerner in me. Jeremy would like to mention that you can also cut it into chunks. Shred. I like the shred.

that’s the ticket

I’m actually reserving most of the carne adovada for tamales, to be blogged at a later date. However, we couldn’t resist having some for lunch today with warm tortillas, cheddar, and avocado. Typically it should be smothered with red sauce, but I didn’t make any and the carne adovada was amazing without it anyway.

pure joy

Carne Adovada
[print recipe]
modified from Santa Fe Recipe (The Shed)

16 dried, red chile pods
3 tsps salt
4 cloves garlic
2 tsps oregano
5 lbs. pork (any tender cut) (*jen’s note, use pork shoulder)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove stems from the chile pods. Place pods in a pan and bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chiles are lightly roasted. Leave oven door open (I didn’t do this). Don’t breathe the fumes! I shook the seeds out of the pods and discarded them. Place pods in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water from the chile pods, but reserve about 2 cups for the purée. Place pods in a food processor or blender. Add the salt, garlic, and oregano. Cover the mixture with the chile water. Blend well for 2 minutes or until the skins disappear. Cut the pork into 2×4 inch strips. Place the pork in a ziploc bag and add the sauce. Thoroughly coat the pork. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place pork and sauce in a baking dish. Cover and bake for 4 hours or until meat is tender. Shred or chop meat.

63 nibbles at “it’s getting hot in here”

  1. Alice Q. Foodie says:

    That looks great, and I have some chiles in the cabinet right now. We didn’t make it to the Shed when in Santa Fe, but we did enjoy the enchiladas and sopaipillas at Tomasitas!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’ve never heard of this before. It sounds like heaven. :)

  3. Paula says:

    Hi Looks great, would it work for chicken as well

  4. holybasil says:

    I love New Mexican food – such an underrated cuisine, I feel. I’ve never had this dish but I hope to try this soon. By the way, what kind of chilies did you use?

  5. The third little piggy « Reassembler says:

    […] made yet. In fact I’ve never tasted it. But you can tell by reading and looking that this Carne Adovada is a knockout. It’s a New Mexican dish of pork loin marinated in a chilis, oregano and […]

  6. jenyu says:

    Alice – I’ve actually never been to The Shed, but my Santa Fe Recipe book is a collection of recipes from several restaurants in SFe. But honestly, I could spend a month eating my way through New Mexico ;)

    Wendy – oh honey, it’s gooooood stuff! I hope you’ll give it a try.

    Paula – Yup, I’ve seen it on menus in New Mexico where they have chicken adovada. I’m sure it’s fantastic too!

    Holybasil – The chiles are New Mexican Red Chiles. I think they are Hatch chiles that are dried. Let me know if you can’t find any and I’ll send you some :)

  7. Nabeela says:

    That looks extremely good…can you suggest me a chicken/beef alternative? Which cut of meat would work best if using those two? Thanks a lot for the recipe….it looks absolutely amazing!

  8. jenyu says:

    Nabeela – Oh yes, I think you can definitely substitute beef or chicken. I prefer dark meat (despite using pork loin here) so I would probably use chicken thighs or chicken drums, but you could certainly use chicken breast if you prefer white or leaner meat. For the beef… I’ve done shredded beef tacos before and I used beef chuck or brisket with good results. Good luck and I hope you like it!!

  9. megan says:

    This does look wonderful. I’ll mark it as tagged!

  10. New Mexico Sketchbook, Part Two: Santa Fe : Sketching and Sketchbooks says:

    […] ate well: bright pink prickly pear margaritas, warm sopaipillas with honey, posole, carne adovado, and assorted sauces featuring local chilies. […]

  11. Amy says:

    I made the pork and it is fantastic!!

    Thanks for the step by step photos:)


  12. johanna says:

    how pretty and how tempting! i have a whole bag of dried chiles in my drawer, about time i used them! that’s just the thing… thanks for the inspiration!

  13. jenyu says:

    Megan – great, give it a try (but I think dark meat will yield a more tender carne adovada)

    Amy – you are so welcome!!

    Johanna – perfect! You are all set to make some carne adovada. I hope you’ll post about it!

  14. Paula says:

    Always great to find someone who truly appreciates the foods found here in New Mexico. I am bound to this land by my stomach !!!!

    I’m happy to lend info to anyone here regarding New Mexican food preparation.

  15. jenyu says:

    Yay, a New Mexican! That food is a big draw :)

  16. Francisco says:

    Great recipe and fantastic pictures. However I just want to point out that “adobada” is spelled with “b”. Same goes for adobo, adobado et al.


  17. jenyu says:

    Francisco – you’ll have to take that up with the authors of the book and the owners of the restaurant! :)

  18. Stephanie says:

    Francisco – as a New Mexican, I can certainly tell you that around here, it’s usually “adovada”. Just like chile is spelled “chile” as opposed to “chilie”, “chili”, “chilli”, etc. :)

    And carne adovada is one of the best dishes!

  19. Tonazzo Stefano says:

    Great carne red chili best dishes!

  20. Holly says:

    I love making carnitas and this looks like another great choice. I so can’t wait to try this! (Oh, and by the way, the storm is starting to blow in here in Utah, so it is probably headed your way next).

  21. jenyu says:

    Holly – yup! We’re due for some snow tomorrow :)

  22. PeterMarcus says:

    My sister-in-law is from Albuquerque (my bro and her met at UNM), and when her parents come out to visit here in Florida, they bring more chile bags than she knows what to do with, so (lucky me!) I usually inherit one.

    This looks seriously tasty. Gets me in the mood for red chiles.

  23. Rachel says:

    Seriously, my favorite recipe of all time. It’s now my go-to for company, super easy, super tasty. Thanks for sharing!

  24. jenyu says:

    Peter – sweet! That’s a good connection to have. Looks like you have what you need to make a batch :)

    Rachel – I’m so with you on that. It’s delicious!

  25. Gary says:

    Great presentation on the web. I need some vegetables to go with this over above beans ans rice. My pork is marinating right now. The ingredient I wasn’t aware on before today was oregano. i’m going to try it in a crockpot tomorrow to keep from heating the house. wish me luck.

  26. jenyu says:

    Gary – good luck with it! I hope it works out. I love my crock pot and have never tried it that way. Lemme know how it goes :)

  27. Quintan says:

    I have tried a similar recipe for the sauce. The recipe is from a place in Marfa, TX and is almost identical to your recipe although you use dried ancho chiles. I have come soooo close to nailing it and it smells incredible but tastes really bitter (too bitter to eat)!! Maybe seeds or skins? Wonderin if you may know what is making it bitter? Anyhow, I love your recipes.

  28. jenyu says:

    Quintan – sorry, these aren’t ancho chiles, they are New Mexican chiles. I de-seed the pods, but leave the skins. If you can find New Mexican chiles, you’ll have much better luck. Thanks!

  29. wing says:

    Had carne adovada the other night. Living in New Mexico 26 years I’ve found that I prefer a mixture of half new mexico and half guajillo chiles. I lightly pass them over a gas flame to toast them before soaking. The perfume is wonderful. Great photos and recipe (that would make great breakfast burritos!

  30. jenyu says:

    wing – thanks.

  31. shea says:

    Hey, this looks so good. How do you think it would do in the crockpot? and if i did that, should I marinate for the full 24 hours?

  32. jenyu says:

    Shea – I’m not sure about crock-potting. It’s kinda dry and I’ve never tried crock-potting this one before. I would still marinate for 24 hours, but… let me know if you try it!

  33. Shea says:

    Thanks, I intend on trying in the next few days. One more question….my husband likes well seasoned BUT not fiery spicy (however I like it when I feel my tongue is on fire, but I have to compromise), so do you have any suggestions about adjusting the amount of chiles in this recipe? I made your shredded beef tacos and they were perfect :)

  34. jenyu says:

    Shea – Hmmm, I guess that depends on the chiles you use? Definitely leave the seeds out if you want to mellow it. I don’t find these to be fiery hot, so you may want to go with the recipe as is (just make sure you take the seeds out). The shredded beef tacos rock, don’t they? :) I love that recipe.

  35. shea says:

    I made it today; the only change I made was leaving out a few chiles. It was great, very very tender and not too spicy at all. Ok, last question! I have a ton left and I would love to hear your thoughts on how to use the leftovers. I saw where you made tamales, but I my kids aren’t big on those. I may just split it up and freeze. If you have any ideas, let me know! Thanks. :)

  36. jenyu says:

    Shea – hurray! You can also make chimichangas, but those are kinda indulgent (grease). Or enchiladas (I like stacked enchiladas). Both of those are on the recipes page. Crunchy tacos, nachos – lots of things. I tend to make a big batch and freeze into smaller batches since it’s quite a bit of work to make this.

  37. Jenny says:

    I love your whole site although I usually focus on cooking my way through your Chinese stuff since my sweetie is ABC. In spite of this, I am the one with the high spice tolerance and he is the wimp, and since I, too love New Mexican food (and Sichuan food, and Thai food and Desi food) I have experimented with a lot of ways of getting chili pepper flavor into food without the heat, or with less heat. My current solution is to use powdered kimchi chilies. THis has the added advantage of being incredibly cheap. If you’re in new Mexico, you can pick up cheap dried Hatch peppers, but where we are in Atlanta, those suckers are expensive. Korean red pepper is amazingly cheap, we have to buy it by the pound, and a pound lasts a year if we don’t make kimchi. And korean pepper has that awesome sweet-bitterness that is what chili flavor is all about.

    In any case, you guys don’t personally sound like you have any problems downing spicy food, but unless you get a mild year of NM chilies, the hatches are really too hot for mere American mortals, and this is a workable solution for us at least.

  38. jenyu says:

    Jenny – good to know. Thanks for the tips.

  39. Rene says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I had Carne Adovada in a burrito with red sauce and it was truly amazing. It was served with wonderfully spiced rice and the best beans I have ever had and warm sopaipillas! The place serving it was MONICA’S EL PORTAL ALBUQUERQUE NM and I highly recommend it!

  40. jenyu says:

    Rene – that sounds phenomenal. Thanks for the tip!!

  41. cactus juice says:

    Leave the seeds in the chile pod to increase the heat ! No real resaon to prebake the chile pods, just fill sthe air with chokinf fumes – just put the chile pods into a pot of boiling water and simmer until soft, then purree I like to run the purree through a food strainer as though making red chile sauce.

    Runny nose, watery eyes, and a swollen tongue – now that’s eating!

  42. nate says:

    I am going to be attempting to make this recipe this weekend, only using a pork shoulder roast. Doesn’t look like this has been commented on in quite a while, but I figured I would post anyway.

    I am going to attempt to do the roast, cut in the 2×4, in a slow cooker, and then shred it up.

    Me and my fiance just moved to New Mexico 2 years ago, it took us a while to eat New Mexican food, but now we can’t get enough.

    We get Twisters Grill alot and I am addicted to their Carne Adovado Burritos smothered in Green Chile.

    Will post back and let everyone know how this worked out.

  43. Malena says:

    I made this two weekends ago for my brothers birthday party, he wanted all Mexican food. OMG it was fantastic!! I am going to be making it again this weekend for my sister in laws birthday but will be using chicken instead of pork.

  44. Michelle says:

    Wow, I found this recipe a few months ago and have made it 2 or three times, I had printed it out, but recently lost it, so I googled till I found it again, I am so thankful. I am originally from the southwest, and took the New Mexican food for granted…moved to South Carolina 5 years ago. The Mexican food out here is way different, more authentic from Mexico, which is bland compared to NM food, so I have been forced to make stuff myself, and while I have always made a few good dishes on my own, some things I have missed and this is one of them. Excellent recipe and is recommended. You have to be the type cook that is patient and does things right, it is worth the time. Everyone I work with loves my New Mexican dishes! Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

  45. Rose says:

    Jen, We’re going to try this sometime soon for a tailgate. Could you recommend a red sauce recipe to go with this?

  46. jenyu says:

    Rose – Oooh, I hope I’m not too late for this. Well, I don’t actually know of a good red sauce recipe because I usually try to buy a good one (and jars of it) when I visit New Mexico. I don’t have a recipe off hand, sorry! But I’m sure you could find a good one from a source like the Border cookbook! Good luck.

  47. Jessa says:

    Not sure if someone already mentioned this but should you ever get chili residue on your hands again, and you don’t wish to experience “Burning Nostril” (or even worse, “Burning Eyeball”), wipe your hands clean with alcohol wipes or a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol….or if you don’t have that, vodka or whiskey works too; Capsaicin (the chemical that gives chiles their heat) is alcohol-soluble. THEN wash your hands normally.

  48. jenyu says:

    Jessa – you are awesome!! Thanks for the this tip :)

  49. EdG says:

    2 easy red sauces: #1 – mix New Mexico red chile powder with chicken broth to desired consistency. I like this one in posole. #2 – Enchilada sauce – make a roux using equal parts flour and New Mexico red chile powder and the shortening of your choice. Lard is more authentic but maybe not so pretty good for your arteries, other shortenings or oils will work but will change the flavor. Add chicken broth, the sauce will thicken, add more chicken broth until you get the desired consistency, add more red chile powder if necessary. Add your own favorite herbs, spices or other seasonings, if you like.

  50. jenyu says:

    EdG – cool – thanks! :)

  51. Julian says:

    I’m from nm and this looks like the best recipe so far I live in Colorado springs now and people don’t know know what that is (so sad) and I lost my recipe that I came up with in collage so I need to try yours it is close to mine so I know it will be perfect my family also owned a NM styal dinner for manny years no one could come peat with us

  52. Susan says:

    This recipe is fantastic! My husband and I were in Albuquerque and Santa Fe a few years ago. We miss those chilies. Thanks for posting this, I refer to it regularly.

  53. Phil Bowman says:

    I lived in New Mexico for many years. I watched some elderly Mexican ladies handle hot chile peppers for a long time with no gloves. All they did was wash their hands in tomato juice and tomatoes when they were finished. No more sting. That was many years ago and I have been doing that ever since with great success. I never use gloves; I just keep a bowl of tomatoes handy and then use the tomatoes. Came in very handy every fall when it came to time to roast and peel green chile…

  54. H_Squared says:

    EdG was right on with his recipe for chile colorado – a lovely, velvety red chile sauce made with lard, Chimayo red chile powder, flour and water or broth. Chicken broth or veggie broth make it oh, so rich and delicious. It is what I traditionally have used for my adovada, but yours (with chile caribe) is more true to the cuisine of NM, and I’m dying to try it.

    Chimayo chile is THE best red chile grown anywhere in New Mexico, in terms of flavor. It is getting harder to come by and more and more expensive, but it is our family’s favorite, with most of my relatives still living in Albuquerque and Deming.

    A small nugget of trivia for folks who loooove Hatch chiles, Hatch is not a type of chile. It is a region where chiles of all types are grown. There are NuMex chiles, Big Jims, and Sandia chiles, all of which are grown in the perfect chile climate of Hatch! :)

    Thank you, Jenyu, for this recipe – you’ve got me looking forward to a weekend in the kitchen making biscochitos, pinto beans and a warming helping of adovada. I do miss my home, and these foods are the little things that remind me of those childhood comforts.

    By the way… has some classics. A good reference for sauces, green and red.

  55. Robb says:

    I cooked this recipe for guests yesterday, and it went over very well. We were immediately hooked on this dish after a week-long visit to NM. I did add an onion and 2 tsp coriander to the mix. Perfectly delicious. Thank you for sharing. I only wish there were more leftovers.

  56. Ross says:

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. We’ve made it several times over the years. We ordered carne adovada at the shed just last month and agreed that this recipe made at home is even better than what you get at the Shed.

  57. Amy M says:

    I’m a native New Mexican who just moved to Humboldt County and I’m drowning in almost freezing rain! :( The only thing I know to cure my frozen bones is good home cooking – thank you JenYu for posting great recipe and for keeping it authentic. It’s been a long time since I made Carne Adovada, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it with some beans and a little EdG sauce… can’t wait for the weekend!

  58. My First Brisket- Need Help - Page 2 - Home Brew Forums says:

    […] something a little different from the usual, this carne adovada recipe is pretty great with beef: I made it work with a brisket once that I then turned into tamales. Instead of putting the […]

  59. Carne Adovada | Adventures in Low Vision says:

    […] my favorite recipe for carne adovada if you like southwestern food, or if you’re up for a spicy […]

  60. Dan says:


    Your adovada recipe is the best. We live in NE NM and have tried a number of different places, including the shed. Adding a bit of cumin makes it extra good. We highly recommend the recipe. Thanks for posting!

  61. Carol says:

    Hi, Have you tried this with chicken?

  62. jenyu says:

    Carol – I have not, although it sounds good!

  63. Turbo Sauce and Carne Adovada – What's Annie Cooking says:

    […] I have fond memories of those days and was excited to try it as a marinade from my favorite blog, carne adovada. It is a versatile recipe that can be used in addition to a marinade, in tacos or enchiladas and […]

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