I don’t know if a can of chipotles adobados/en adobo (smoked chillies in adobo sauce) is used by serious Mexican cooks, but it’s probably the first ready-to-use sauce I can sincerely recommend. When last week I bought some pork to make MJ’s extraordinary Carne Adovada and realised I didn’t have time to make the necessary chile sauce, I thought why not give the forgotten can of chipotle a chance? The former sauce comes from New Mexico, the latter from Mexico… I was curious to see the similarities. I knew I should find a proper Mexican recipe to compare with MJ’s chile sauce made from the scratch, but I had no time and the can was sitting there for months… Anyway, all I hoped for was a smokey-flavoured stew with a fiery kick. And I obtained it!
I hate ready-to-use sauces, so if it wasn’t for an extremely enthusiastic Mexican shop owner and the whole chillies inside I would never even look at this one either. Though they do have a surprisingly good taste, I still am convinced that if used alone, canned chipotles lack a lot compared to homemade, but I will probably never know since I couldn’t imagine not improving it by adding garlic, onions, chilli powder, dried chillies, allspice and some Mexican oregano (I bought it inspired by MJ’s dish and her cooking in general, and of course it’s used in Mexican cuisine too!). In spite of all these additional ingredients, it still was a shortcut, I loved this quick vaguely Mexican-style dish and will certainly keep a can of chipotles adobados in case of emergency. (Though I will make chipotles adobados from the scratch one day!).
If you want to learn how to make the above-mentioned Carne Adovada (it’s easy and irresistible!) or simply to discover thousands of fabulous inspiring recipes from New Mexico (and not only!), I strongly encourage you to visit MJ’s Kitchen.
TIPS: In certain countries (such as USA), chipotles in adobo sauce are available even in basic supermarkets. In my city they are sold in Latin-American Food groceries, but I know you can easily buy them on internet, practically worldwide. I’ve used the La Costeña brand (a 7 oz/almost 200g can) which seems to be the most popular.
This stew can be prepared in the oven, of course.
Use any pork cut fit for long simmering (shoulder or neck is what I usually buy for stews). The shoulder usually has some fatty parts which I remove while cutting it up, but it’s up to you if you do it or not.
It’s difficult to advise how much of the chipotle en adobo you should use. Adapt it to your heat resistance level, start with a small amount and add more during the cooking process, if required.
I had this meat shredded and put into wraps, with some raw vegetables, herbs and sauces (this is my favourite way and I guess a certain variation of a burrito), but it would also be perfect with potatoes or with bread and a green salad.
Preparation: about 3 hours (or more, depending on the meat)
Ingredients (serves four):
1 kg pork shoulder cut into 4-5 cm (about 1 1/2-2 in) chunks (or another pork cut of your choice), fattiest parts cut off
1/2-2/3 small can of chipotles en adobo, chopped (I’ve used La Costeña 7oz/199g can)
2 tablespoons of slightly hot chilli powder, for example Kashmiri chilli powder
a small handful of dried and chopped/torn mild chilli, such as pasilla
2 medium onions, cut into 8 pieces each
4 big garlic cloves, sliced
6-8 allspice berries (I put them in a muslin bag, but you can add them as they are)
2 heaped tablespoons Mexican oregano (skip it if you have only Greek oregano; the taste is different)
homemade chicken stock or water
Put all the ingredients into a pot, cover with stock or water (5 cm/2 in. above the meat), and simmer at the low heat for about three hours (or more, depending on the meat).
You might want to check and adjust the seasoning after two hours.