Carne Adovada Repair?

So, Tuesday was Bill and I’s second wedding anniversary. The plan was for it to start with carne adovada breakfast burritos.

I dragged my father, who was visiting Sunday and Monday, to one of our two butcher shops to buy 5 lbs of meat. I carefully trimmed it down and cut it into chunks late Monday night after visiting with several of my beer friends at a beer launch. I placed it in the same slow-cooker I have always made carne adovada in, with the same amount of red chile (two cups) I have always used.

The house smelled amazing the next morning when we opened the slow-cooker. We were very excited. Only to have our hopes cruelly dashed once we tried a piece.

It… was bland. It was basically boiled pork. Which was odd, as we had not added water, only red chile. Yes, that has some water in it, but fairly minimal. As far as we could tell, the particular hunk of pork I got was far too fatty (even after being trimmed) and the amount of red chile we used was far too little.

So, we poured off the sauce and threw the meat and the sauce in the fridge separately to chill. The plan was to skim off the fat from the sauce and try again.

So much for that plan.

Yesterday, I fished out the pork chunks that were still mostly fat and set them aside. I think that, while Bill’s gone, I’m going to toss them in a cast iron skillet and render them down and see what I get.

The meaty pork bits, I threw into a dutch oven with another two cups of red chile and 4 oz of a very lovely imperial stout my friend Jason brewed. That went into the oven at 250F for an hour, then I got the dutch oven back out and shredded the pork completely. That was wetter, smelled better, and burned my eyes from spiciness just a bit. I put it back in the oven for another hour.

What came out was not truly carne adovada, which should look something like this. It was more of a chile glazed pulled-pork.

And, holy hell, it was hot. Way beyond what either of us expected. The first batch was close to flavorless, this batch (made with the same batch of red chile) had disticnt flavor of red chile, but also of MOUTH ON FIRE. For me. Bill didn’t find it quite so bad.

My assumption is that the alcohol brought out more of the heat, since capsaicin dissolves in booze and oil. When I pulled out Jason’s beer, I didn’t realize it was 10% – 10.5% ABV, which meant a lot of possible solvent in there. Not that I was thinking of the beer as a solvent/heat-enhancer at the time. I just thought it might give a fun undertone. Unfortunately, the flavors of the beer didn’t come out at all.

So, overall, I’d say this has gone from boring to good, but not from boring to carne adovada. I’m going to portion it out and freeze it today. Some of it, we’ll use in burritos and/or tamales even if it’s not truly what we intended. The rest, I’m not sure. I bet I’ll make a chilli with some of it.

But if you have any suggestions, I’ll take them. What would you do with incredibly fiery shredded pork shoulder? And what should I do with almost three cups of red chile flavored rendered pork fat?

6 thoughts on “Carne Adovada Repair?

  1. Yum! Your question about fat got me thinking (as a classically trained chef (L’Academie de Cuisine Bethesda, now Rockville), we never threw anything away) and then ideas came flying to mind! You might have to render and strain it again but, having all that heat in chili flavored lard would make some fantastic fried chicken, spiced up tamale dough, amazing refried beans, savory pate brisee crust for quiche, empanadas and chile spiced buttermilk biscuits (switch the butter or shortening) with cheese and herbs…and I could go on!!!
    Great timing because we have a tub full of spicy hot sausage fat renderings at the moment that I thought I’d save to slather on the outside of the Thanksgiving turkey before roasting as an aside to sausage stuffing. That might be a new twist for turkey! You may be onto something, whipped flavored lard is apparently the “new butter” for 2013!
    PS-Your intro page made me laugh! Ex- DC and Baltimorean here too. I daydream of moving to the Pacific NW (Vancouver has my heart) or back to DC/Metro too but then comes the thought of moving all the cookbooks! Our last mover kept asking what was in all the incredibly heavy boxes. When I told him it was all cookbooks, he upped the estimate by $100! When he got to my office, he saw the wall of textbooks and I think the word “tree killing book hoarder” crossed his mind. 🙂 I can’t decide which to upcycle first, but I’m leaning toward turning my algebra books into something I actually enjoy.

    • Oh, man! Fried chicken made with this sounds amazing. I mean, it all does, but particularly the chicken and biscuits. Of course, I’ve been on a fried chicken craving for awhile now, so that might have something to do with it.

      Vancouver, BC or Vancouver, WA? (This is like, in New Mexico, having to ask, “Las Vegas, Nevada or Las Vegas, New Mexico?”)

      I’m amused by that mover story! I can believe it. Our movers, when we moved just across town, said basically the same things when he saw all our books. Then it came in under our original estimate. Ha! Take that!

      What would you upcycle the algebra books into?

      • Not sure, full of ideas and this looks fun ( for the holidays though extreme patience is not one of my more endearing qualities, but I’d like to be able to see they were once math books so maybe as the background for postcards with funny overlay quotes printed on them.

        Vancouver BC. I spent a few summers in Canada growing up and spent a few weeks in Vancouver 2 years ago (I was there for their first big blizzard in years and the whole city shut down~ as crazy as being in the south in when it snows!). Granville Island Winterruption is a great time!

        • Those spikey balls look super cool. Maybe you could do a couple of those and a couple of post cards or something. Textbooks tend to be enormous.

          I can totally imagine a city in that area being paralyzed by a lot of snow. And yet, wholly fun. I bet that was a good time.

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