It’s been unseasonably cold here in the midwest. Cold and rainy. In fact, I’ve worn my rainboots so much I feel like I’m in Seattle or London. Alas, there are no flannel wearing, coffee consuming grunge-types to greet me, nor are there clipped accents, cockney cabbies, or the smell of fish and chips wafting out of every corner pub. Not that I could consume said fish and chips…. I’d have to make my own…. So, what’s a girl to do when the sun should be shining on the glorious garden flowers, and instead they’re bending from the pounding of the rain? Turn on a little desert heat. Oh yes- a red chile, southwestern, New Mexico cuisine extravaganza. The heat from the sun has been replaced by the belly warming desert heat of red chile. In the form of carne adovada of course. A shoulder of pork smothered in red chile sauce and slow cooked at low heat until the whole house is warm and toasty with the smell of it. It’s sure to bring a little sunshine to wherever you are and a smile to your face.
1 pork shoulder or pork butt- approximately 2-3lbs
1/2-1 cup of red chile powder (for authentic New Mexican flavor, get dried Hatch red chiles and crush them in your food processor. Be Advised- if you do this, wait 2 minutes for the powder to settle before transferring from processor to container. Or, wear a mask. Inhaling red chile powder is an experience you won’t forget.. Ever.)
2 cups of warm chicken stock
1tbs cornstarch (optional)
1 small can of tomato paste (optional)
A note: You can let this slow cook all night and serve for breakfast, or cook all day and serve for dinner. I get a side of pork every year from a local farmer, so 16-18 hours before I want to serve my meal I set my frozen pork on the counter in a bowl and let it thaw. This means I either leave it out all night and the carne cooks all day, or I leave the meat out all day and the carne cooks all night. It’s pretty easy, but it is a meal you have to plan for.
6-8 hours prior to the meal you want to serve the carne, turn the oven to 200. Cut the carne into 2-3 inch chunks and place in an oven safe container. Place the chile powder in a bowl and slowly add chicken stock. If you want a thick, hot chile sauce, use less stock and omit the tomato paste. If you want a milder sauce, but still want it thick, use the full 2 cups of stock and add the cornstarch and tomato paste. Add the cornstarch first. Do this by placing the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and adding a ladlefull of the stock/chile mixture while whisking vigorously. Then add the cornstarch mixture back to the larger bowl of red sauce. The thickness and heat level is really up to you. My girls are starting to enjoy spicier food, so this has a bit of kick, but it won’t make your nose-hairs stand on end, or give you the hiccups. (Super spicy food always gives me the hiccups)
Pour the sauce (in whatever form you like it) over the carne, cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven. Walk away and come back 6-8 hours later. Garnish with fresh cilantro (from your garden if you grow it), and serve with gluten-free flour tortillas and gluten-free cornbread. Here’s a delicious gluten-free cornbread I developed especially to go with the carne. It’s a cakey recipe. Moist and not too crumbly. If you’re feeling wild and crazy add shredded cheese and green chiles to the recipe below. Put a little spanish guitar on the stereo, serve a sweet white wine or a Bard’s Tale Beer, and Olé! It’s a party!
Light & Fluffy Cornbread
makes 16 squares
1 cup + 2 tbs corn flour (corn flour is a finer grind than cornmeal, but cornmeal is also ok)
1/2 cup millet flour
6 tbs tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)
2 tbs agave nectar
3 tbs bacon fat or other oil ( e.g.canola, grapeseed, or melted butter)
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a 9×9 square pan. (no need to do this if you have clay, or nonstick bakeware)
In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients leaving out the bacon fat.
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just incorporated. Add the bacon fat and mix thoroughly.
Pour contents into baking dish and put into the oven. Cook on the lower 1/3 of the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy with honey, butter, jam, or your favorite condiment.