New Mexican Carne Adovada, Arros Verde, and Frijolles

New Mexican Carne Adovada, Arroz Verde, and Frijolles

Hearty Fall Cookery

When fall arrives in northern New Mexico, aspens turned a golden yellow, the chile harvest in full swing, the aroma of roasting green chiles wafting in the cool crisp air, red chile ristras drying in the sun where ever you look, you realize this is a place like no other. Chile farming goes on here much as it has for hundreds of years on small family farms, chile seeds passed on from generation to generation, that produce unequivocally the best chiles in the world; sweet, fruity, hot, and an with an irresistible earthy taste of the hues of the landscape that nourishes this native fruit towards delicious shades of red and green transformed and relished as they arrive at the table.

Carne Adovada is a uniquely New Mexican version of the Mexican carne adobada (marinade) that grew out of influences from Aztec and Mayan origins, later influenced by the Spanish, in New Mexico influenced by Native Americans, and Spanish and Mexican settlers, and of course the unique varieties of New Mexican chiles themselves that give this dish its uniquely New Mexican flavor.

In the recipe that follows I have used powdered pure Chimayo red chile and chile caribe (crushed whole dried chiles), which I horde and cherish with a vengeance in my kitchen in far off Thailand. New Mexican chiles are available from many sources online. My recommendations follow and well worth the effort to seek out the best and freshest chile products available.

The Chile Shop, Santa Fe

Los Chileros, Santa Fe      

Bueno Foods                          

The recipe:

  • 1 ½ kilo (3 ½ pounds) pork shoulder
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil (cold pressed) or olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano (Mexican if available)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds + 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup New Mexico red chile powder (med or hot)
  • 2 tablespoons red chile caribe (crushed whole red chiles)
  • ¼ cup Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 cup water for blending
  • 12 cups spring water for cooking
  • sea salt &freshly ground black pepper for seasoning once the Carne Adovada is cooked

Cut the pork into four pieces and season with salt and pepper. In a stock pot heat the oil until nearly smoking and add the pork and sear until browned on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside. Lower the heat to low and add the onions, garlic, and oregano and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Add ½ cup water and continue to cook until the water has been nearly absorbed. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Transfer the onion mixture to a blender jar and add the ground toasted coriander and cumin seeds, honey, red chile powder, red chile caribe, sherry vinegar, cinnamon, clove, and ½ cup water. Blend for several minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Place the seared pork back into the stock pot; add the blended mixture, and 12 cups of water, rinsing the blender jar with some of the water as you fill the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a very low simmer and partially cover the pot with a lid.

Cooking time will vary, but somewhere between 3 and 4 hours. Stir several times each hour. Be mindful of the stock in the pot as it will reduce during cooking. Add additional water if the stock needs replenishing while cooking.

When the pork is soft and just beginning to separate into chunky strands remove the pork to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Continue to reduce the stock/sauce until it reaches the consistency of cream. Strain the sauce to remove any bits of pork and set the sauce aside to cool.

Once the pork is cool enough to handle, pull the pork apart into generous chunky strips, removing any bits of fat.

Skim any fat off the surface of the cooled sauce and put the pulled pork back into a stock pot with the sauce for reheating, or cool completely, again skimming any fat off the surface, before storing in the fridge in a sealed container.

The flavor of the Carne Adovada will improve with a day or so in the fridge!


Reheat the Carne Adovada. Wrap some stone ground corn tortillas in a kitchen towel and steam them in a bamboo steamer for several minutes until they are soft and pliable. Lay the tortillas out on a plate and place the pork, just off center, across the width of the tortilla and roll it up to encase the pork. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and place them on serving plates. Ladle sauce over the enchiladas and drizzle sour cream or Greek yogurt sparingly over the enchiladas.

Serve Sugettions:

Serve the enchiladas with Arroz Verde, recipe precedes  (posted below/scroll down) and slow cooked beans (posted in basics).

Buen provecho!



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