If you love hearty dinners with fall apart tender pork, then this New Mexico Carne Adovada recipe is for you! Not to be confused with adobada, this easy classic New Mexican dish Carne Adovada is made with juicy pork pieces simmered in a flavorful red chile sauce.
New Mexican Carne Adovada
Although I love a warming bowl of stick-to-your-ribs Texas style beef chili, this simple carne adovada recipe may just be my new favorite pork dish.
Made with seared pork butt or pork shoulder slowly simmered in a chile-based sauce, New Mexico-style carne adovada is irresistibly delicious!
The red chile sauce or adobo sauce is made with a combination of ancho, chipotle and New Mexican chiles, seasonings, and spices that are then blended together until velvety smooth.
The smokiness from the ancho chiles, the earthiness of pasilla peppers, and a hint of sweetness from chipotle peppers give carne adovada stew its signature flavor profile.
Once ready, the spoon-tender chunks of pork are often served with rice, pinto beans and warm corn or flour tortillas. This New Mexican specialty can also be served with a drizzle of Mexican crema, crumbled queso fresco and a squeeze of lime juice.
Why You’ll Love This Carne Adovada Recipe
- Flavor: This delicious meal is boldly spiced and super flavorful.
- Affordable: Pork butt or shoulder is less expensive than pork chops, pork tenderloin or loin.
- Feeds a Crowd: If you are having a dinner party or gathering, turn carne adovada into tacos, burritos, tostadas and even quesadillas!
Is It Adovada or Adobada?
Despite its Spanish name, carne adovada is a New Mexican-style pork stew. This dish is inspired by Mexican flavors.
Adobo is a more general term referring to a traditional Mexican cooking method in which meat or any other ingredient is cooked in adobo sauce. Adobo sauce is made from different dried chiles, spices, aromatics, and vinegar.
What Is the Difference Between Chile Colorado and Carne Adovada?
Both dishes feature tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat stewed in a red chili sauce; however, Carne Adovada is made with pork chunks while Chile colorado is made with beef cut into 1 inch chunks.
Chile Colorado beef cooks in a boldly spiced and vibrant Mexican-style red chile sauce (colorado means red in Spanish) or adobo. This sauce is made with tomatoes, spices, vinegar and different dried chiles such as guajillo chiles, chile de arbol and California chiles aka New Mexican red chiles.
What’s the Difference Between Carne Asada and Carne Adovada?
Carne means “meat” in Spanish, regardless of whether it’s beef or pork. Although both carne asada and carne adovada have the word “carne” in the name, that’s where the similarities end.
Carne asada means “grilled meat” and it’s a very popular Mexican dish made with marinated beef, usually flank steak or skirt steak quickly cooked on a grill, like BBQ.
On the other hand, carne adovada is a dish made with pork, braised low and slow in a thick chile-based sauce.
Adovada Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
This is a quick overview of what you’ll need to make carne adovada. For specific ingredients and amounts, please check the recipe card below.
- Pork: To make this recipe, you’ll need pork shoulder or pork butt (sometimes labeled Boston butt).
- Dried Chiles: In this recipe I use dried ancho chiles and dried pasilla chiles If you can’t find a specific chile, New Mexico chiles are a good substitution. Do not use red chili powder or Mexican chili powder. You need the whole dried chile which you’ll rehydrate to make the adobo sauce.
- Chipotles in Adobo Sauce: These are usually canned or even bottled. Don’t substitute them for dried chipotles or ground chipotle because they won’t taste the same without the brine.
- Chicken Broth: I use regular broth but low-sodium can be used as well.
- Honey – I use 100% bee honey. In the worst of cases, maple syrup. Sugary mock honey syrups will not work for this recipe.
- White wine vinegar – Don’t swap it out for white vinegar.
- Garlic Cloves: Although I prefer fresh garlic, garlic paste (sold in the produce area of any grocery store) can be used as well.
- Spices and Seasonings: Ground cumin, dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if available), ground cloves, bay leaves, salt (I use sea salt or Kosher salt) and ground black pepper.
- Onion: You can use brown, white or yellow onion. Don’t use onion powder.
How to Make Carne Adovada (New Mexican Red Chile Pork)
This recipe can be made on the stovetop or in the oven. For specific instructions and times, please check the printable recipe card below.
- Prepare the pork. Pat it dry with paper towels and then season it with salt and pepper. Set it aside.
- Hydrate the dried chiles. In a small saucepan, place the dried chiles and broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the chiles become soft.
- Blend the sauce. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles and some of their liquid into a blender. Add the chipotle peppers and some of their adobo sauce, honey, white wine vinegar, garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, and ground cloves. Process until you get a smooth mixture.
- Brown the pork: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. . Add the pork chunks in a single layer and sear them until golden brown. Transfer the browned pork into a bowl and set it aside.
- Sauté: Sauté the onions until they become softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Deglaze and add the pork. Add the blended sauce back into the pot and deglaze the pot by scraping the browned bits stuck at the bottom. Stir the pork into the mixture until completely coated in the sauce. Add the bay leaves and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Simmer: This recipe can be made fully on the stovetop or in the oven. Both methods result in fork tender pork. After simmering the pork, the sauce should have the consistency of ketchup.
- Season and serve. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
What Kind of Meat is Adovada?
Carne adovada is made with pork shoulder or pork butt.
What Does Carne Adovada Mean in English?
Carne means meat in Spanish. The word adovada comes from the word adobo. Adobo is a general term referring to a traditional Mexican cooking method in which meat or any other ingredient is cooked in adobo sauce. Adobo sauce is made from different dried chiles, spices, aromatics, and vinegar.
What Goes Well with This New Mexico-Style Pork Stew?
Carne adovada is usually served with rice and flour or corn tortillas to soak up some of the sauce and create an even more flavorful bite. My favorite way to enjoy it though is in a burrito. You can also serve this chili with refried beans or charro beans (frijoles charros) on the side.
As for the toppings (you must have some fun toppings!), a dollop of Mexican crema (or sour cream) and crumbled queso fresco perfectly balance this boldly spiced stew.
Making Ahead, Storing, Freezing and Reheating
- Making Ahead: Carne adovada is the perfect recipe to make ahead of time. Actually, I think it tastes better the next day. Make this dish 1-2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The red chile sauce or adobo sauce by itself can be made 2-3 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Storing: Cool the pork stew completely. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze carne adovada for up to 3 months. Cool the pork stew completely, then store in an airtight freezer-safe container or freezer safe resealable bag and freeze.
- Thawing: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- Reheating: This delicious meal can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add additional broth, if needed.
Adovada recipe Tips and Notes
- Pat Dry: To get a nice golden brown sear, pat dry the pork pieces with paper towels or a kitchen towel.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan when browning the pork. Place just enough of it to cover the bottom of the pot. If you place too much inside, it will release extra moisture and the hot oil won’t be able to counter it with enough heat. Thus, your pork will boil and not sear.
- Rinse the dried chiles. Give the chiles a quick rinse to remove any dirt, before throwing them into the saucepan.
- Chiles: Since all dried chiles don’t taste the same, I like mixing two or more varieties in one dish. This adds depth of flavor and allows you to experiment in the kitchen.
- Spicy or Mild: Carne adovada is not a super spicy dish but you can add heat with additional chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.
Take A Look At These Other Easy Pork Recipes:
- Pork Chile Verde
- Juicy Oven Baked Pork Chops (Easy Recipe)
- Juicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Honey Baked Ham Recipe (Copycat)
- Grilled Pork Chops Recipe
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- Pot/Dutch oven
- 3 lb boneless pork butt or shoulder trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch chunks
- 4 dried ancho chiles stems and seeds removed
- 4 pasilla or New Mexico chiles (or a combination of both) stems and seeds removed
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1-3 chipotle chipotles in adobo sauce (see notes)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 6 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Pat the pork dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you make the sauce.
Make the sauce:
- In a small saucepan, place the dried chiles and broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to low. With a spoon, push the dried chiles down to make sure they are completely submerged in the broth. Cover and simmer until the chiles become soft, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover the pot and allow to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the chiles and about half of their liquid to a blender. Add the chipotles in adobo sauce plus some extra adobo sauce (see notes), honey, white wine vinegar, garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, ground cloves and salt into the blender and process at high speed for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Add the remaining cooking liquid and continue to blend until the sauce becomes smooth.
If cooking in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 325º F.
Cook the pork:
- In a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes or until golden brown. Brown the pork in batches to prevent overcrowding the pot. Add additional oil, if needed. Remove the meat from the pot and transfer to a bowl.
- Add the onions to the pot and sauté, stirring frequently until they become tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour the chiles sauce into the pot and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the pork to the pot with any collected juices. Stir to evenly coat the pork with the sauce. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low. Cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 2.5 hours or until the pork becomes fork tender.
- Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 2 to 2.5 hours or until the pork becomes fork tender. Remove from the oven, uncover and carefully stir to combine.
- The sauce should be thick (almost as thick as ketchup). If the sauce is thin, place the pot on the stove and simmer over medium-low heat uncovered, stirring to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot, until reduced to the desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with rice and/or corn tortillas, chopped cilantro and lime wedges.
- I add 1 to 3 whole chipotle chiles (depending on their size and how spicy I want the dish) with about 1-3 tablespoons of adobo sauce.
- This recipe can be made on the stove top or in the oven.