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Snap back at the cold with soul-warming carne adovada

During last week's downright Biblical cold snap, I turned to my cast-iron skillet for security and the opportunity to run the oven a couple hours for some carne adovada.

My riff on the classic Sonoran dish is filtered through Arizona and New Mexico in its flight into Red River country.

A good cast-iron and a couple pounds of protein is always promising. Add some dried red chile flakes and a quick sofrito and you’ve got a skillet full of goodness that can be used for breakfast lunch or dinner and dressed up or down. You can double the amount of chile flakes if you're looking to work up a sweat at supper.

You can skip making a sofrito, and simply jump right into searing the pork. If you skip the sofrito, you might want to add some dried onion flakes and granulated garlic to the braising liquid. Or just add a little extra of the spices.

The sofrito is simple and versatile enough everyone should learn it for a future that has us huddling near the stove and oven.

This dish is ideal for a cast-iron, but any baking pan will work. You can also braise on the stove, but it might take a little longer with the heat only coming from the bottom.


•1/2 cup minced onion

•3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

•1 tablespoon tomato paste

•1/4 cup of your favorite fat or a blend. Choose from bacon, butter, vegetable oil, olive oil

In a small nonstick skillet, heat the fat. Give it a minute to warm up, then add the onions and spread them out so they slowly sweat away their liquid. After a half hour, add minced garlic and tomato paste.

Mix well, add salt and pepper then continue to sweat the ingredients another 10 to 15 minutes. You can also add granulated mushroom powder, fresh and fresh herbs at this point.

After the garlic and tomato has had time to blend and soften, set aside until ready to use.

Carne Adovada

•2 pounds pork, cut into 1-inch cubes (tenderloins what's pictured)

•1/4 cup fresh red chile flakes

•2 cups chicken stock

•Sofrito, see recipe

•Couple shakes of Worcestershire or deglazing liquid of your choice.

•2 teaspoons cumin

•2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves, preferably Mexican

•1 tablespoon garlic powder

•Fresh ground black pepper

•Kosher salt to taste

Make the sofrito first. It can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.

Before cutting the pork, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 275 F.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. If using lean pork, hit the skillet with a little vegetable oil or residual bacon fat then add the cubed pork and brown on all sides.

Deglaze pan with Worcestershire or some other deglazing liquid (wine, citrus) then stir in the sofrito and spices.

Add the chicken stock and stir well, making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Put the skillet into the oven and let the pork braise until a crust has formed on top, and a small amount of liquid remains in the bottom of the pan. The pork should now be fork tender.

Serve with warm tortillas and your favorite starch. Fresh pico de gallo, a little sour cream, and grated sharp cheddar are good ride-alongs if your carne adovada is destined for a burrito.

SOURCE: Dave Cathey, The Oklahoman

Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›