At a recent neighborhood holiday party a happily married woman announced to my wife: “Mary, I’m running off with your husband.” Now, lest you get the idea the social life here in the Wet Mountains is more exciting than it really is, allow me to explain. She had just taken a taste of the carné adovada that I had made to brace us all against the cold of the coming winter.
I think I first tasted this dish at El Paragua restaurant in Española, New Mexico, just down the road from Chimayo. I immediately wanted to learn how to make this dish at home.
My version is a slight variation of the recipe found in the Santa Fe School of Cooking cookbook. Instead of pork butt I use pork steaks I get from Larga Vista Ranch. I brown them whole in an enameled casserole, then remove them from the heat and set them aside. As I proceed with the basic recipe, I also use lard to sauté the onions and like to add the spices (except the canela, or cinnamon) while doing this to bring out more flavor. When the whole mess goes into the Cuisinart, I use just half a teaspoon of canela. Sometimes if you use a whole teaspoon the dish becomes a bit too Fanta Se Foo Foo, and I’ve noticed some recipes call for none at all.
By the way, there is no substitute for the flavor of Chimayo Chile in this recipe.
Meanwhile, I cube up the pork steaks and add them back to the skillet to brown each piece on all sides. Then you can just pour the chile mixture over the meat, cover it and put it in the oven. This dish is best if you cook it a day ahead and allow it to set refrigerated before reheating.
And while we’re cooking, here’s a recipe for grain-free pancakes.
Put two cups raw almonds into a Cuisinart. Grind until they form a flour. Add four or five eggs and mix with the Cuisinart. While it’s still going, add about a tablespoon heavy whipping cream, and you have a batter. Cook on medium-low heat as you would a regular pancake in butter or organic lard. This makes about a half-dozen fair-sized hotcakes.