Friday, 23 January 2015

Carne Adovada with Mexican Pickled Onions, Street Salad & Guacamole

I’d had it in mind to cook the New Mexican dish Carne Adovada (pork cooked in a red chilli sauce) for some time and this had a lot to do with the gorgeous red colour I’d seen on the first recipe I saw - sadly mine doesn’t have that rich redness but I think it still looks pretty luscious all the same.

I then found a Kenji’s Food Lab recipe on Serious Eats and decided that I would follow it pretty much to the letter. Kenji approaches recipes in a very systematic, scientific way - he does lots of testing and if he thinks that this would result in the best dish I would put my trust in him.

Of course me following a recipe to the letter is easily said than done. So of course I have here substituted one of the chillies - but for the New Mexico variety as I had bought some specifically many months ago (and also as I didn’t have pasillas). And a couple of quantities have changed but only slightly. Oh, and I added red kidney beans but as they were in the fridge and I wasn’t sure what else I would put them in.

I served this with Mexican pitta’s, homemade Mexican style pickled red onions and guacamole and a Mexican “street salad” adapted from Jamie’s here. Corn tortillas with similar accompaniments would work too.

Carne Adovada
serves 2-3

1⅓ whole dried ancho chilies, seeds and stems removed, roughly torn
1⅓ whole dried New Mexico chilies, seeds and stems removed
375ml chicken stock
25g raisins
150ml orange juice
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chili in adobo
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
435g boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
¾ tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
100g red kidney beans
sea salt

Place dried chilies in a medium saucepan over medium high heat and cook, turning occasionally, until softening and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add chicken stock, raisins, orange juice concentrate, chipotles in adobo, white vinegar, and fish sauce.

Bring to a boil over high heat before reducing heat to a bare simmer, and let cook until chilies are totally softened, about 15 minutes. Blend into a smooth puree using a blender (hand or otherwise). Set aside.

Pat pork dry with paper towels and heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed casserole over a medium-high heat until smoking. Add pork all at once and spread as evenly as you can (for once it's ok if the pan is crowded). Cook without moving until bottom surface is well browned, about 8 minutes. Give a stir, cook for a few minutes more then transfer pork to a bowl and set aside.

Turn the heat right down and add the onions and garlic to the casserole and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and garlic are softened and beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the chili mixture from the blender to the casserole and stir well to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Return the pork to the casserole also. Add bay leaves and beans.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally until pork chunks break apart when you apply pressure with a spoon, about 2 hours.

The sauce should be fairly thick so if needed, increase the heat to a light simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced to the desired consistency. Season very carefully to taste with salt.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice.

Pickled Red Onions
(you’ll make more than you need so keep the excess in an airtight container in the fridge)

2 tsp sea salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, sliced
50ml red wine vinegar
20ml lime juice
40ml orange juice

In a bowl, toss salt and onion together; let sit until onion releases some of its liquid, about 15 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, lime & orange juices together.

Drain the onion and give it a quick rinse. Drain again and put back in the bowl and mix in the peppercorns, oregano, cumin, and garlic. Spoon the mixture into a jar then pour over the vinegar and seal with lid. Pop in the fridge for at least 4 hours before using.

serves 2

1 large ripe avocado
⅛ red onion, very finely chopped
juice of ½ - 1 lime
½ tsp salt
½ green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Cut open the avocado, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Roughly mash the flesh with a fork (try and keep it quite chunky), adding half the lime juice as you do so.

Fold in the rest of the lime juice, chillies, salt coriander and red onion.

Season with plenty of black pepper and more salt, lime juice and coriander if you think it needs it.

Mexican Street Salad
serves 2

Use a mandolin or food processor with a slicing attachment if you can, it will make the whole process a lot less labourious

½ small white cabbage, finely shredded
6 radishes, (about 10) trimmed and finely sliced
2 small carrots, peeled and finely sliced
small bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
sea salt

Put the cabbage into a large bowl with the radishes, carrots and most of the coriander. Mix everything together really well then add almost all the chopped chilli and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil.

Add most of the lime juice and a good pinch of salt, then toss together and taste. Keep adjusting the flavour by adding more coriander, chilli and / or lime juice as you see fit until its just right.

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