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Spicy chili powder, tender pork, coffee, and a surprise ingredient come together to form this traditional Carne Adovada dish! Straight out of New Mexico, this comfort food recipe is filled with unique flavors and is easy to prepare.
Carne Adovada isn’t as popular as other Tex-Mex dishes like fajitas, tacos, or enchiladas, but it should be! I’m always surprised when folks have never heard of this New Mexican dish. It’s rich, hearty, and is very similar to a big bowl of chili.
It packs a really unique flavor profile, with chiles, braised pork, coffee and a surprise ingredient coming together to form this ultimate comfort food meal. I like to serve mine with rice, but you could also eat it straight from a bowl on its own. It’s that good.
What’s the secret ingredient? Would you be surprised to learn it’s raisins! Yep, they get soaked in coffee and pureed into the chili sauce. It’s fantastic! It adds a depth of flavor with the chilies and coffee for one amazing sauce.
The dish is sometimes referred to as carne adobada, but that’s actually a mistake! Adobada is the Spanish word for “marinated in adobo sauce.” Adobo sauce is made with chiles, spices, and vinegar, and there are tons of Mexican carne adobada dishes out there. As long as it’s meat cooked in adobo sauce, it can be referred to as such.
On the contrary, the recipe I’m sharing with you today is native to New Mexico and features pork cooked in a spiced broth. Let’s dig in!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Pork – Go for boneless pork shoulder for best results.
- Coffee – The secret to my recipe is a bit of strong coffee! You won’t find it in carne adobada recipes as it isn’t an ingredient in adobo sauce. However, I find that it adds a bit of extra flavoring that works well with the other flavors! I like using ½ a cup of espresso and ½ a cup of regular coffee. If caffeine is an issue for you, you can use decaf!
- Raisins – You’ll use coffee to plump up the raisins for this recipe.
- Chili Seasoning – Feel free to use New Mexican red chiles or Chimayo ground red chiles for the chili powder. You’ll enjoy a much more authentic flavor. You can also use my homemade version.
- Chipotle Chile – This recipe wouldn’t be the same without a little chipotle flavor. Opt for varieties that have been soaked in adobo sauce.
- Chicken Broth – You need this to cook the pork in. I have an entire blog post dedicated to making it from scratch!
- Flour – This helps to give your dish a little more body.
- Onion & Garlic – For added flavor.
- Salt, Pepper, & Mexican Oregano – You can use regular oregano if you like, or if you can’t find Mexican oregano.
- Limes & Pico de Gallo – For serving. I recommend you make my pico de gallo from scratch!
HOW TO MAKE CARNE ADOVADA
- Prep. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place the raisins in your cup of hot coffee for about 5 minutes so they plump up. In a small bowl, whisk together the chili powder, flour, and oregano and set aside. Then, cut the pork into 1 ½-inch chunks and season them with salt and pepper.
- Cook. Heat oil in a Dutch Oven and brown half of the pork shoulder for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining meat. Add in the onion until it softens. Then, add your garlic and chipotle and stir for about 2 minutes. Add in the chili powder and flour mixture and cook for 1 minute more. Stir the chicken broth, coffee, and raisins into the mixture and bring to a boil.
- Blend and Braise. Use a hand blender to puree the mixture until smooth. You could also work in batches if you want to use a standard blender or food processor. Place the pork back into the Dutch oven and pour the sauce over the top. Stir for a few seconds, cover, and pop it in the oven for 2 hours.
- Season. When it’s done, season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve over rice with lime wedges, pico de gallo, and fresh chopped cilantro!
What is Carne Adovada in English?
It’s a New Mexican specialty, similar to a stew or chili, that translates to “marinated meat.” It is sometimes confused with carne adobada, which is Spanish for “meat marinated in adobo.” Adobo is a type of Mexican sauce made from chiles, seasonings, and vinegar.
What’s the Difference Between Carne Asada and Carne Adovada?
Although the names of these two dishes may seem similar, they are quite different! Carne asada is marinated beef that is grilled, typically made with flank or skirt steak. The other recipe involves braising pork in a sauce made with chili powder.
Where Did Carne Adovada Originate?
The recipe originated in New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. While it’s not a traditional Mexican dish, it is highly present in Tex-Mex cuisine! It lands somewhere in between a chili and a stew as it can be served with rice or eaten on its own! You can also top it with lime, salsa, or even a bit of Cotija cheese if the mood strikes!
This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking August 2018 and has been updated in March 2022 with new content, photos and a video.
- 1 cup strong coffee (See Note 1)
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup chili seasoning (See Note 2)
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano (See Note 3)
- 5 lb boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups white onion chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce minced
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 6 limes
- pico de gallo (optional for topping)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Add raisins to cup of hot coffee and allow to plump, 5 minutes. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the chili powder, flour and oregano. Set aside.
- Cut pork into 1 1/2-inch chunks and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown half of the pork, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining pork.
- Add onion to the Dutch oven and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chipotle, stirring for 2 minutes, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan.
- Add chili flour mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Add broth and coffee raisin mixture, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to boil.
- Puree using a hand blender (immersion blender) OR work in 2 batches and carefully transfer mixture to blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return pork to pot and pour sauce on top. Stir and cover with lid. Bake for 2 hours.
- Season to taste and serve over rice with lime wedges and pico de gallo (optional) or chopped cilantro.
- I’ve used 1/2 cup of espresso, 1/2 cup coffee before too. Feel free to substitute.
- Feel free to use New Mexican red chiles or Chimayo ground red chiles for the chili powder for a more authentic flavor.
- Feel free to use regular oregano if you like or can’t find Mexican oregano. Mexican oregano is a relative of lemon verbena and has notes of mild licorice and citrus. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and is the one sold in the spice aisle at supermarkets.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.