This beautiful, brick red pork stew is a Comapeño chili twist on a New Mexican style carne adovada. In Santa Fe this dish would be made with powdered red chili giving the sauce body and vegetal heat. Since Santa Fe’s red chiles more mild than Comapeño, tomato paste steps in to provide a tangy base for the sauce. Two tablespoons of Comapeño in the sauce for this adovada is agressively medium-hot. It sneaks up on you, accumulating after a few bites, but leaving a persistent smoldering sensation even when the meat is paired with rice or flour tortillas to tame it. Those sensitive to heat can trim down to a single tablespoon. Chili heads, conversely, can amp it up even more. -Emily Teel
Note: Our friends have tried making this with other kinds of meat and turns out, it works great. It has been made with brisket, it has been made with chicken (just add a but more liquid and cook a bit shorter because it doesn't quite have enough fat and it will burn), and it has even been made in an instant pot. I also made a great vegan version with oyster mushrooms. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll explain how to do it!
4 pounds pork butt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium onions, diced (about 3 cups)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1-2 tablespoons Comapeño pepper
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups stock or water
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, sherry, or red wine)
2 bay leaves
Rice and beans
Flour tortillas, warmed
Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in bottom third of oven.
Trim exterior of pork of dense white fat and cut meat into ¾-inch cubes. Season with salt.
Place a large oven-safe dutch oven over medium-high heat and add cooking oil. Brown meat in several batches, taking care not to overcrowd. As meat browns transfer it to a dish. Once all meat is browned drop heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add cumin, coriander, oregano, and Comapeño pepper and stir to combine, cooking until spices perfume the fat in the pan and coat the vegetables. Add tomato paste and stir vegetables to coat. Add broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen the fond. Add honey, soy sauce, and vinegar and stir to combine.
Remove pan from heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth, tilting the pan and tucking the head of the blender into the corner to blend thoroughly. Alternatively, transfer mixture to a blender to puree. Taste mixture and season with salt as needed.
Return the pork to the pan with onion mixture and add bay leaves. Stir to combine. Cover pan and roast until pork is tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove lid and return to oven to reduce sauce, about another 30 minutes. Once complete the sauce will have a deep, brick red color and the rendered pork fat will be pooling on the surface. Stir mixture together and serve.
Emily Teel is a freelance food writer, recipe editor, tester, and developer based in the Portland, Oregon area. She completed a Master of Arts in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. An alumna of Bryn Mawr College and a Legacy Award Winner with the women's culinary organization Les Dames d'Escoffier International, she's passionate about food and committed to the idea that everyone deserves access to meals that are both nourishing and satisfying. Her writing and recipes have appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, Serious Eats, Civil Eats, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and The Kitchn.
This is what the Carne Adovada should look like before it heads into the oven for 2 hours.
Here's a peek at Comapeño Pollo Adovada made with chicken breast.