Sunday, September 28, 2014

Carne Adovada

The Universe sent this recipe to me.

That's a fact. Maybe you don't believe me or maybe you're rolling your eyes at just how silly this little cavegirl has become. But it's a fact and I have proof.

The Universe sends me things all the time. The things I need to survive. The lessons I need to learn, right when I need to learn them. And pretty little gifts to remind me that there is a higher power looking out for me.

For example, I had been telling the Universe for months that I wanted a purple lacrosse ball (for mobility). I workout pretty hard in the morning, and then I go sit all day, which basically is a recipe for hip-mobility-disaster. So I needed a lacrosse ball to keep at my desk to provide myself some relief when the going got too tough. But I wanted a purple lacrosse ball. My basement cubicle is a drab-brown place and I wanted any new permanent fixture to be soothing and pretty.

Now before you link away because you think I've gone past silly and straight into ridiculous, let me be clear: I wasn't actively telling the Universe I wanted a purple lacrosse ball (you pictured me shouting my desire at the full moon, didn't you?). It's far more simple to communicate with the Universe than all that. In this case, every time I went to a sports store and found only orange or white, I'd lament to myself the lack of purple and walk away. Or when I felt myself getting tight at my desk, I'd think "man I wish I had a purple lacrosse ball right now." That kind of thing.

Fast forward a few months to this Summer. I was out for a run with one of my coworkers to take advantage of the beautiful weather and a long mid-day gap between meetings. We were on the jogging trail complaining about our management (as you do) and half-mocking-half-motivating each other through the final stretch when I spotted something on the side of the trail and had to stop. It was my purple lacrosse ball.

In case that isn't clear enough proof for you, let me describe the setting. We were on a jogging trail. Through a wooded area. With no lacrosse-approriate fields within miles. And I am a scientist working in a male-dominated field. Hell. My running partner and everyone else we saw on the trail that day was male. Where did this lacrosse ball come from? And why purple? Because the Universe sent it to me.

I carried it in and washed it off. Now it sits in a place of prominence at my desk. I let my co-workers hold it while I tell this story whenever someone makes fun of my Vision (white) Board or my claims that it totally works! It's pretty compelling. Stops the cynical mockery right in its tracks!

I also tell this story to friends when they hear me say "I want to be loved like a Brad Paisley song," and they realize that A) I'm not kidding, and B) I'm super optimistic. The Universe delivers!

But back to this recipe.

In June I was on a work trip to New Mexico and binge ate Carne Adovada and green chile. I only make it to New Mexico a few times a year, and my local "new Mexican" restaurant is a sad disappointment, so I started to think that I needed to find a New Mexican grandmother willing to share her recipe with me. I even bought a package of dried New Mexican chiles to have on hand when I found her.

I traveled back to New Mexico in August for work/play and again had the same thought, "I need a New Mexican grandmother's Carne Adovada recipe." I didn't want one from a cookbook or pinterest or I wanted something legit. With lard in it perhaps. And I put the Universe on notice.

Then. At the end of August, I made a new friend. We exchanged normal get-to-know-you information and I found out he was born in New Mexico. I didn't put it all together until a week or so later when I was walking home from the grocery store. He knew about my lacrosse ball so he didn't think I was totally crazy when I texted to see if he happened to have a New Mexican grandmother. He did! AND he was willing to call his mother for her Carne Adovada recipe.

And now I have it.

I had to modify the original to make it SillyLittle CaveGirl-safe. But the flavor is truly authentic. A real gift from the Universe.

Carne Adovada

Yes, those are corn tortillas. Sometimes I "cheat" a little bit...


3 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed
10 dried New Mexico chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño (optional)
3 cups water + 1 cup
3 tablespoons potato starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the stem and seeds from the dried chiles and (optional) jalapeño. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes, careful not to burn the jalapeño. Remove from oven and place in a sauce pan. Pour over 3 cups of water. Place on medium-high heat until water boils. Remover from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes until peppers soften.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the salt all over the cubed pork. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Once you can smell the garlic, add the salted pork. Turn the pork frequently to brown the sides. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the peppers have softened, pour the mixture into your blender and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan and season with oregano and cumin. You can add a touch more salt and pepper here (to taste) if desired, but be careful because the pork already is salty.

Pour the sauce over the pork and turn well so that the cubes are well coated. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate over night.

In the morning, pour the marinated pork (and all the sauce) into your Crock-Pot. Set on low and let cook until the pork is fork-tender. About 4 hours. Turn heat to low. In a small bowl, mix the potato starch into the remaining 1 cup (cold) water until dissolved. Pour potato starch slurry into the Crock-Pot and stir to combine. The sauce should thicken nicely. 

Serve with (homemade paleo) tortillas, salad, avocado, etc. Makes 6 servings.

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