This is the best carne adovada recipe! By keeping the process and the ingredients simple, the flavorful chiles truly shine amongst the ultra-tender pork chunks. Enjoy the saucy spiced pork over rice with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lime or make homemade tortillas and serve them alongside the stewy meat.
New Mexico Style Adovada
In its most simplest form, carne adovada consists of chunks of pork braised in a thick chile sauce flavored with garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, and honey. This tender pork, coated in a thick red sauce, can be served in tortillas or over rice.
Other than the pork, the most important ingredient in carne adovada is the dried chiles. The type of chile used in carne adovada is dried New Mexican chiles. Dried New Mexican chiles are fruity, slightly sweet and a bit acidic in flavor, they’re more mild than hot, are medium in size and have a deep, shiny red appearance. Can’t find new dried Mexican chiles? You can use dried California chiles as a substitute.
Is It Adovada or Adobada?
This recipe refers to the New Mexican dish spelled “adovada.” “Adobada” on the other hand is used to describe the Mexican technique of cooking meat in a dried chile sauce known as adobo sauce.
What’s the Difference Between Chile Colorado and Carne Adovada?
Both Chile Colorado and Carne Adovada are braised meat dishes featuring rich, bold chile sauces. Chile Colorado is more mild in flavor and features beef while Carne Adovada is bolder, more spiced and is made with tender chunks of pork.
What’s the Difference Between Carne Asada and Carne Adovada?
These two dishes are very different from each other. While Carne Adovada is a braised pork dish featuring a rich chile sauce, Carne Asada is a marinated and grilled beef recipe (usually made with flank steak or skirt steak). Carne Adovada can be served with rice, fresh tortillas, potatoes and more while Carne Asada makes a great steak taco.
Ingredients in Carne Adovada
- Pork Butt, sometimes labeled Boston Butt at the grocery store. Pork shoulder can also be used.
- Dried New Mexican Chiles, dried California chiles or dried Guajillo chiles will also work. Look for them at your local Mexican market or in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store. You can also buy them online.
- Honey, or sugar, balances the savoriness of this dish.
- White vinegar, balances flavors and brightens the dish overall.
- Garlic, you’ll need 5 large cloves.
- Dried Mexican Oregano, marjoram can also be substituted.
- Spices: ground cumin, cayenne and ground cloves add depth of flavor.
How to Make Carne Adovada
The beautiful thing about this recipe is that most of the cooking is totally hands off! Most of the heavy lifting in this recipe is done in the oven, the most hands-on part is blending up the chile sauce! Here’s the process:
- Trim and cut pork into bite-sized pieces; season with salt and let stand 1 hour.
- Seed and stem dried chiles then tear into pieces.
- Soak chiles in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups liquid, and transfer chiles to a blender with honey, vinegar, garlic and spices.
- Blend dried chile mixture until mostly smooth; stream reserved liquid in until a smooth sauce is formed.
- Combine chile sauce and pork in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil.
- Braise the pork until tender; 2–2½ hours.
Test Kitchen Tips
- To ensure even cooking, make sure you cut the pork into even pieces. For easier prep work, freeze the pork for about 15 minutes which will make it easier to cut.
- Save some time by making the chile sauce in advance. Store it in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Serce Carne Adovada over Cilantro Lime Brown Rice or over crispy roasted potatoes with fresh cilantro and sliced scallions.
- Make a burrito by rolling tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, Carne Adovada and rice in a large tortilla.
- Make tacos! Serve carne adovada in flour or corn tortillas with lettuce, avocado and cilantro.
Make Ahead, Storage and Reheating Tips
- Carne Adovada can be made up to 3 days in advance.
- Let the Carne Adovada cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator.
- Reheat Carne Asada in a large pot on the stove top over medium-low heat until meat is warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave for 2–4 minutes.
- To freeze Carne Adovada, transfer the meat and sauce to a zipper-lock freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal, then lay flat on a baking sheet. Transfer sheet to freezer and freeze until solid. Once frozen solid, remove sheet and store in freezer. Let the Carne Adovada thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.
More Braised Meat Recipes to Try
- Our Lamb Vindaloo is a bold spiced lamb dish. Serve with warm homemade naan or rice.
- Instant Pot Lamb Shanks are another decadent and savory meat dish to try! If you’ve never made lamb shanks, this is the recipe to start with—foolproof and fall-off-the-bone every time!
- Traditional Goulash Soup is another must-try dish. This comfort food recipe features tender bites of beef, a mix of chunky vegetables and gets finished with sour cream and fresh dill.
Carne Adovada Recipe
- 1 (3 ½–4-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- 4 ounces (14–16) dried New Mexican chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Cooked rice or cilantro lime rice
- Lime wedges
- Toss pork and 1 ½ teaspoons salt together in a bowl; refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Combine New Mexican chiles and 4 cups boiling water in medium bowl. Cover and let sit until chiles are softened, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325ºF (162ºC) degrees.
- Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups soaking liquid. Process chiles, honey, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, cloves, and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender to a thick paste, about 30 seconds.
- With blender running, slowly add reserved soaking liquid and blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Combine pork and chile sauce in Dutch oven, stirring to coat, then bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until pork is tender and fork inserted into pork meets little resistance, 2 to 2½ hours.
- Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir into pork until sauce is smooth and homogenous. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with lime wedges.
This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated cookbook. ATK sent this book to us a few months ago, and gave us the green light to share one of our favorite recipes!