Introduction: Carne Adobada
So here you are, reading a tutorial in English, written by a Dane, about how to cook Mexican food. The world is a weird place!
Growing up, my parents loved spicy food. They made Thai curries and dahl and I often remember sitting at the dining table sweating with a glass of milk in my hand. As a teenager I went on exchange to India, which forced me to get used to a whole other level of spiciness, and I guess I never really changed back to Danish standards.
Chilli became a stable part of my diet and I started exploring different cuisines. Eventually I made it to Mexican cuisine. In Denmark Mexican food normally means grounded beef cooked with some premixed bag of spices served with iceberg and sour cream in a supermarket wheat tortilla. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my mom invited me to an authentic Mexican Cooking class.
At the cooking class I was introduced to many dishes with different dried Mexican chilies and especially the stewed pork with ancho chilies and orange juice blew my mind. So, I’ve decided to share this recipe with you.
Carne Adobada – Stewed Pork with Orange and Ancho chili sauce
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: around 2 hours
500 grams of pork neck or another suitable cut, cut into bitesize, about 2 x 2 cm
2 dried ancho chilies
1 tablespoon raisins
2 dl fresh orange juice
3 dl water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of neutral oil
1 medium onion, julienned
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Salt (about 1.5 tablespoons)
Needed kitchen utensils:
A stove, a good quality knife (rather 1 sharp than 10 blunt), a spatula, a cutting board, a serving pan or big pot, a smaller pan or pot and a blender (or handblender).
Step 1: Getting Started: the Pork
This dish is very easy to make. You start of by prepping the two main parts of the dish: The pork and the chili mix.
To prepare the pork, cut it into small cubes and drizzle some plain flour over it. Work the flour into the surface of the meat. This helps to ensure a nice brown surface on the meat that will carry flavour into the stew.
Brown the meat in neutral oil at medium to high heat, making sure not to put too much meat at a time, as this will make it difficult get a nice brown surface. Browning is all about the surface of the meat. The meat doesn’t need to be cooked. It just needs to get a nice colour. So, don’t stir the meat too much. Just flip it once or twice and then remove it, leaving the fat in the pot.
Choosing the right cut:
When choosing the right cut for your stew you want to follow some general rules. You want meat with a lot of fat and tendons, because all this helps to bring a lot of flavour. This means cuts like neck, jaws or shoulder where the muscle has been used a lot.
These cuts have a long cooking time, but are usually also cheaper.
Step 2: The Chili Mix
When the meat is cooking (or if you have an extra person with you) you can start preparing the chili mix. Press the oranges. One orange contains between 1.5 and 2 cl of fresh juice. When that is done, the ancho chilies need to be toasted. Toast the chilies until small bladders start appearing on the skin of the chili. When toasting the chilies will normally straighten out a little. It's okay if they smoke a little but make sure they down burn too much. When they are ready, remove the chilies and let them cool. When cold enough to hold, deseed them.
Add the fresh orange juice, vinegar, chilies, raisins and spices to a pan or small pot over medium heat. Add the water if the chillies aren’t covered by orange juice. This mixture needs to simmer around 10 minutes. When the chilies are soft, you take the mixture off the heat and blend it, making sure not to leave any bites of chili.
In Case of Chili-Crisis:
Getting Ancho chilies is not easy in Scandinavia, and i asume it's the same other places too. In Scandinavia you can use https://www.chilihouse.dk/shop/frontpage.html to get dried chilies, and i hope that you guys have a similar option.
If not, you need to add some spices. Chilies are not only about spiciness, they add a lot of flavour too. So if you can't get ancho chilies you need to "fake" the flavour. This is done by adding a 1 tsp of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of instant coffee (or use some coffee instead of water), 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of chili flakes (more or less acording to spiciness). This is not the same as the "real deal" but it helps creating the right flavour profile.
Step 3: Combining the Dish
Now that you have prepped both the meat and the chilli mix you get onion and garlic. Cut them and add them to the to the pan with leftover pork fat. Fry until soft and golden. Add both meat and chilli mix to the pan and reduce to a simmer. Now all you must do is wait and stir. The meat needs approximately 75 minutes. If it reduces too quickly you can add more water. You are looking for a thick dark sauce that won’t soften your tortilla. When it reduces it becomes more likely to burn, so stir more often towards the end (You don’t want all your hard work to go down the sink!).
Before serving, add salt to taste. You can always salt the stew but be careful adding to much salt in the beginning, as this will make the reduced sauce very salty.
Step 4: Ready to Serve
When everything is ready you serve the carne adobada on good quality tortilla (both corn and wheat works) together with sour cream, cabbage, raw union and fresh herbs.
Thank you for reading and Bon Appetit!
Also, Credit to Meyers Madhus in Copenhagen! You guys are awesome!
I use this recipe for wheat tortillas, sometimes using coconut oil instead of lard (if you want vegan-friendly tortillas): https://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/flour-tortillas...
And this is a nice side dish (also adds a vegan option to the table): https://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/flour-tortillas...
Runner Up in the