Carne Adovada Pork Chops: a romantic dinner for two

It’s the time of year when people think of romantic dinners. The truth is, it’s who you’re with not what or where you’re dining. Set the table with candles and crystal and try a bit of Northern New Mexico for dinner. This Carne Adovada recipe, with it’s spicy red sauce seemed a great choice for a  Valentine’s Day dinner, but of course, you can serve it year round.

Carne adovada literally means marinated meat. In New Mexico it’s usually cubed pork that has first been marinated in red chile sauce overnight, then slow cooked in the oven, on the stove top or in a crock pot for several hours until it’s soft and tender. This variation was inspired by the Rancho Plaza Grill in Ranchos de Taos, NM. The chef there uses his grandmother’s recipe for the red chile and grills the marinated chops. I couldn’t convince him to share the chile recipe, but I don’t blame him.

carne adovada recipe

Carne adovado at Ranchos Plaza Grill, Ranchos de Taos, photo/Steve Collins

Here’s my take on his grilled carne adovado pork chops. Make the sauce and marinate the pork chops the day before you plan to cook them. They can marinate for up to four days. If you have extra sauce you can freeze it in single serving portions. Try this with chicken, too. Serve with ranchero beans and rice. Enjoy a fiesta for two!

Serves 2

2 Center cut pork chops, at least ½- inch thick Try to get T-bone, with generous tenderloin.

Salt and pepper to taste

Season the chops on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the pork chops in a one-gallon reclosable plastic bag and cover with red chile sauce. (See recipe below). Refrigerate or freeze the remaining sauce in a covered container. Refrigerate the marinating pork chops overnight.

carne adovada recipe

Out of the marinade and onto the fire, photo/Steve Collins

Next day, prepare a hot fire. When the grill is ready, put the chops on and grill, saving the marinade. Cook for four minutes. Turn and grill for four more minutes on the other side. (Internal temperature should be 160 degrees. If the chops are thicker, they’ll need to cook longer. While the chops are on the grill, put the marinade into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. If you’d like more sauce to accompany the chops add more. Make sure the sauce simmers for at least 10 minutes.

Red Chile Sauce:

2 pounds dried red New Mexico chiles, cleaned of seeds and stems
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups water or chicken stock

In a dry sauté pan heat the chiles for one minute over medium heat. Be careful not to scorch the chiles or they will be bitter. Remove from the heat. In a saucepan heat the oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions and garlic and cook for two minutes. Add the cumin, oregano and salt and cook for another minute. Add the liquid and the red chiles. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Transfer the contents to the blender and blend to a smooth puree. Put into a container with a lid and refrigerate. It will keep for four days in the refrigerator. It will also keep in the freezer for up to three months.

carne adovada recipe

Ready to serve with ranchero beans, avocado and tomato, photo/Steve Collins

Read New Mexico cuisine: comfort on snowy day the post that inspired this recipe.

Do you have a favorite carne adovada recipe or restaurant that serves it?

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