This tender carne adovada recipe is made with bold Mexican spices and chiles that add incredible flavor to every bite. Served with rice, it’s a hearty, smokey, and spicy pork stew you’ll love.
Why You’ll Love This Carne Adovada Recipe
If you’re a fan of southwestern cuisine, you’ll love this carne adovada for much more than just the incredible flavor!
- Authentic. This recipe is only made with traditional carne adovada ingredients: New Mexico and ancho chilis, plus lots of Mexican spices for an authentic pork stew. There is so much flavor in each bite!
- Prep-friendly. Make the sauce and brown the pork in advance. Then all you have to do is combine and let them simmer right before dinner.
- Great for a crowd. Everyone loves a hearty pork stew. It’s filling, comforting, and packs all the smoky, spicy flavors you need to end the day on a good note.
- Freezer-friendly. Popping it out of the freezer will save you on days when your schedule is too hectic to cook anything throughout the week.
What is Carne Adovada?
Carne adovada is a popular southwestern dish, specifically coming from New Mexico. It’s inspired by southern and Mexican cooking methods and flavors. The sauce is chile-based, but isn’t supposed to be overly spicy. It is made with guajillo, ancho, and New Mexico chilis, which are mild to medium in heat. It’s also boldly spiced with cumin, oregano, thyme, cloves, etc. Finally, it’s left to simmer until fork-tender and served with rice and beans.
Time to check your pantry for dried chiles and spices! Check the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact ingredient amounts and full directions.
- Pork Shoulder: Pork butt is a good swap. Don’t trim off the fat!
- Oil: Feel free to use lard.
- Onion: White or yellow onion work.
- Garlic: Don’t use garlic powder for this, you want fresh garlic for the most flavor.
- New Mexico Red Chiles: I used the mild New Mexico red chiles, but if you want to up the heat you can use hot New Mexico red chiles. You can also swap the New Mexico red chiles for Dried Guajillo chiles.
- Ancho Chiles: You can usually find dried ancho chiles in the international/latin area of the grocery store.
- Chicken Broth: You can use veggie broth or water.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Granulated Sugar: Light brown sugar also works. This is just enough sugar to cut the acidity, not enough to make your chili sweet!
- Seasonings: Salt, Ground Cumin, Mexican Oregano, Dried Thyme, Ground Cloves and Bay Leaves.
How to Make Carne Adovada
Making this carne adovada recipe is as easy as browning the pork, blending the sauce, and letting them simmer. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.
- Brown the pork: Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the pork and cook it on all sides until browned. Set it aside.
- Cook the onions: Add the onions and garlic to the pot. Cook until the onions soften. Return the pork to the pot.
- Rehydrate the chilis: Place the chilis in a small pan and cover them with water. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove them from the heat. Leave them covered until completely softened.
- Blend the sauce: Strain the chiles and add them to the blender. Add in the broth, vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground cloves. Blend until smooth.
- Simmer it: Pour the sauce over the pork. Add the bay leaves. Mix and let it simmer over medium-low heat until tender.
- Serve: Remove it from the heat and serve it with a side of rice and tortillas.
Tips for Success
Any hearty pork stew can be taken to the next level with the help of these tips:
- Use bacon drippings. Save any leftover bacon drippings from breakfast and use them instead of oil (or lard) to give the dish a smokier flavor.
- Make it smokier and spicier. You can use hot dried New Mexico chiles or add 1 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobo to the sauce to make it smokier with more heat!
- Cook in small batches. Don’t overcrowd the pot when cooking the pork. Even if you’re in a rush, it’s best to cook in small batches, otherwise the pork will sweat and won’t brown as well as it should.
- Add potatoes. Dice 1 or 2 large potatoes and add the diced potatoes to the pot 30 minutes before the stew is done simmering. It’ll make the dish extra hearty and filling.
It’s easy to confuse carne adovada with other dishes and cooking methods if you’re not sure what it is and what it’s not.
Adovada refers to “carne adovada” which is a specific dish. It’s a New Mexican pork stew simmered in a chile-based sauce packed with spices. It’s also slightly tangy from a splash of vinegar to balance out the flavors.
Yes. It’s not impossibly spicy, but it is made with two kinds of chiles that can build up the heat depending on your spice tolerance. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, reduce the number of chiles by almost half.
Carne adobada is a Mexican cooking method that refers to a protein that’s marinated and cooked in an adobo-like sauce, whereas carne adovada is a dish itself.
Carne asada is the Mexican equivalent of grilled steak. Carne adovada is a very different dish, because it’s made with pork and is quite saucy.
What to Serve with Pork Adovada
Pork adovada is great with a side of Cilantro Lime Rice, Arroz Blanco, or Mexican Rice. Another yummy side to pair it with are Refried Beans or Friojles de la Olla (Mexican Pinto Beans). Dipping Corn Tortillas or Flour Tortillas in it also make a taco/burrito-like bite that’s super filling. However you choose to enjoy it, don’t forget the toppings! Chopped cilantro, diced onion, and lime wedges add lots of extra flavor and texture.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Once fully cooled, refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat it, microwave it for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a pan over medium heat for 6-8 minutes.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes! Place it in freezer-friendly bags or containers in serving-size portions and freeze it for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating as usual.
More Mexican Recipes to Try
- Authentic Guacamole Recipe
- Rajas (Creamy Roasted Poblanos)
- Salpicon (Mexican Chilled Beef Salad)
- Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Beans)
- Pozole Rojo
- Mexican Picadillo
- Birria or Crockpot Birria
- 5-6 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1.5-inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 10 dried New Mexico red chiles, stems and seeds removed
- 8 dried ancho chiles, stems, and seeds removed
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat the olive oil or lard in a deep, heavy-duty pan, like a dutch oven. Then add some of the pork chunks, browning on each side. (You are not looking to cook the pork though, just getting a good sear on outside of the pork.) Sear the pork in small batches to prevent crowding to make sure you get a proper sear. Then remove pork from the pan and set aside.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the pork back into the pan.
- While the pork is cooking, place the chilis in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid for another 10 minutes. You may need to place a small plate or bowl on the chilis to keep them submerged in the water.
- Strain the chilis and place them into a blender or food processor, then add the chicken broth, vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground cloves. Blend until very smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the pork, then add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and simmer for an hour, or up to 2 hours, until met is tender and the sauce is thickened. Stir occasionally as it cooks to make sure it isn’t sticking on the bottom of the pan.
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