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Rancho de Chimayó’s Carne Adovada Is a Treasure for Chile Lovers

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“Connoisseurs generally consider the village of Chimayó’s heirloom red chile to the best available. Its flavorful balance of sweetness and heat is one of the secrets to Rancho de Chimayó’s signature dish, Carne Adovada,” write Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison in their updated “The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook” (Lyons Press, $24.95). “Not enough true Chimayó chile is grown today to use in all of the restaurant’s dishes, so it is saved for this specialty. Another variety of New Mexican red can be substituted in the recipe, of course, but the resulting flavor won’t be quite as complex. The dishes reaches a peak of flavor when the preparation is spread over two days, so that the pork can marinate in the red chile overnight. Carne adovada is among the spiciest and most popular items on the restaurant’s menu and, like the local chile, is considered nonpareil. Accompany the meat with beans and posole or chicos.”

Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada

Chile Sauce and Marinade:
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (about 25) whole dried New Mexican red chile pods
4 cups water
2 tablespoons diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon crushed chile pequin (dried hot New Mexican red chile flakes)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried Mexican oregano

3 pounds thick boneless shoulder pork chops
Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce and diced tomato, optional

Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until just golden. Immediately remove from the heat.

Break the stems off the chile pods and discard the seeds. It isn’t necessary to get rid of every seed, but most should be removed. Place the chiles in a sink or large bowl, then rinse carefully and drain.

Place the damp pods in one layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning them. The chiles can have a little remaining moisture. Remove them from the oven and let cool. Break each chile into two or three pieces.

Purée in a blender half of the pods with 2 cups of water. You will still be able to see tiny pieces of chile pulp, but they should be bound in a smooth, thick liquid. Pour into the saucepan with the garlic. Repeat with the remaining pods and water.

Stir the remaining sauce ingredients into the chile sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken but should remain a little soupy. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature.

Trim the fat from the cut and cut it into 1- to 2-inch cubes. (If you plan to use the meat in burritos, the cubes should be on the small size.) Stir the pork into the chile sauce and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Oil a large baking dish that has a cover.

Transfer the carne adovada and its sauce to the baking dish. Cover and bake until the meat is completely tender and sauce has cooked down, about 3 hours. Stir once about halfway through. If the sauce remains watery after 3 hours, stir well again and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more.

Serve hot, garnished with lettuce and tomato, if you wish.

Ahead-of-time note: Carne adovada is a perfect make-ahead dish. It will keep improving for at least several days. Add a couple of tablespoons of water before reheating in the oven or on the stove.

Variation: Chicken adovada can be made in a similar fashion. Use 3 pounds of chicken breasts cut into cubes as above. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until very tender.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From “The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook” by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

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