One suggestion and we go all ‘Tex-Mex’. Yes, it’s Carne Adovada and Corn Tortillas

Carne AdovadaDamn those darned Texans and their big attitude, big hats and big generosity. I was having a pretty easy time over here on the east coast of the Emerald Isle when Richard McGary suggested “You should try Carne Adovada. You have all the chillis you need in the chilli parcel. Now, a suggestion like this from most other people would prompt a response like “Yes, of course, I must give it a go one of these days.”.  (That is an Irish way of saying “Thanks for the suggestion. I will never do it, not in this or any other lifetime.”). But, the gentle prompt from the refined McGary leads me to the cooking, my eldest daughter to buy a tortilla press and her boyfriend, to get the appropriate corn flour.

I don’t know why we Irish are so subservient and servile in nature. That tall in the saddle Texan clicks his culinary fingers and we scuttle off to prepare Carne Adovada and Corn Tortillas. The great thing about Carne Adovada is that there are as many recipes for it as there are cacti in the Chihuahuan Desert. That leaves me pretty safe from whoops of inauthenticity from those saddle sore cow pokes.

For my Carne Adovada, you will need:

  • 1.5 kilos of pork shoulder
  • 1 Salida chili (hot)
  • 1 Salida chili (medium)
  • 1 Ancho chili
  • 4 onions
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
The ingredients and the Pride of Ireland, our nation's only tortillia press.

The ingredients and the Pride of Ireland, (possibly) our nation’s only tortilla press.

The first thing to do is to pour hot water over the three dried chilis.

The chilis get a hot bath.

The chilis get a hot bath.

One of the things I love about this dish, I get to chop up a big piece of meat.

Chop the meat into big pieces. About 5cm (2") cubes.

Chop the meat into big pieces. About 5cm (2″) cubes.

Any post with ‘big meat’ needs a gratuitous meat shot. This post is no exception.

Big pieces of pork. Not as big as they are in Texas but big by our standards!

Big pieces of pork. Not as big as they are in Texas but big by our standards!

The pork needs to be browned on one or two sides. Do this in batches in the casserole dish. We don’t want to toughen the meat too much.

Pork pieces browning on one side. They are nice big pieces.

Pork pieces browning on one side. They are nice big pieces.

While this is progressing, chop the onions.

The onions need to be cut large (Texas large, of course).

The onions need to be cut large (Texas large, of course).

Take the meat out and take a photograph of it.

A second gratuitous pork meat shot. Why do I do this?

A second gratuitous pork meat shot. Why do I do this?

While you are photographing the meat, sweat down the onions and garlic.

The onions sweat like an Irishman in a Texan desert.

The onions sweat like an Irishman in a Texan desert.

While the onions are sweating, have fun by blending the chilis.

The chilis in the blender, before I throw the switch and blend them.

The chilis in the blender, before I throw the switch and blend them.

Add some of the chili water to the mixture and blend them.

Splat - The chilis get blending.

Splat – The chilis get blending.

Add some more of the mixture and blend until they form a delicious looking ‘Adovada’ paste.

Beautiful colour from the combined chilis. A beautiful aroma too.

Beautiful colour from the combined chilis. A beautiful aroma too.

When the onions are nice and soft, add the aromatics.

Cumin, coriander and bay leaves added.

Cumin, coriander and bay leaves added.

Add the meat. Next have some fun by pouring the chili sauce.

Not a bad pouring shot. The chili get added.

Not a bad pouring shot. The chili get added.

Next, add the chicken stock.

My first ever 'pour on pour' shot. The chicken stock goes in.

My first ever ‘pour on pour’ shot. The chicken stock goes in.

When you have given it a good stir, add the honey.

The honey takes the edge off the chilis.

The honey takes the edge off the chilis.

Bring the casserole to the boil, cover it and then pop it into a 190º C oven. Leave it there for 45 minutes. Take it out and uncover. Cook on the stove top until the sauce reduces by a good half.

The reduced Carne Adovada. Ready to serve. Big colour, big aroma and big flavour.

The reduced Carne Adovada. Ready to serve. Big colour, big aroma and big flavour.

Now, I know that over in the “Great State of Texas” having a tortilla press is as natural as lassoing ponies out on the range. Here in Dublin, they are as rare as hens’ teeth. So, possibly unique to Irish blogging (with apologies to the great Lilly Ramirez), I present home-made corn tortillas. The quantities are written on the flour bag. Use 2 parts flour to 1.3 parts water with a pinch of salt.

The ingredients for the corn tortillas. Flour and salted water.

The ingredients for the corn tortillas. Flour and salted water.

Mix the flour and salted water together into a dough. Knead the dough until your kneading hand is clean (joking!). Knead it with clean hands for about 5 minutes.

Why did the Texan rob the bank? Because he kneaded the dough.

Why did the Texan rob the bank? Because he kneaded the dough.

Break into golf ball sized pieces and place between parchment on the press. Note our one-sheet-for-both-sides approach.

We broke out the Tex Mex hat for the tortilla making.

We broke out the Tex Mex hat for the tortilla making.

Fold the paper over…

The one piece of parchment approach works really well.

The one piece of parchment approach works really well.

Close and press the press until the tortilla is nice and flat. Practise makes perfect.

Stop when the mix starts to ooze out the edge.

Stop when the mix starts to ooze out the edge. Perfect tortillas.

Fry these, one at a time on a dry cast iron skillet.

The home made tortilla has fantastic flavour. Well worth the effort.

The home-made tortilla has fantastic flavour. Well worth the effort.

Serve the Carne Adovada on the tortilla with sliced onion, shredded cheese and some nice guacamole. A cold beer on the side won’t go astray either.

A taste explosion with subtle undertones and great complexity. Viva Carne Adovada!

A taste explosion with subtle undertones and great complexity. Viva Carne Adovada!

I generally don’t respond well to ‘helpful suggestions’ about what I could and should cook. For once, I am delighted to have cow-towed to the Texan with long shadow.

Tortilla heaven. Messy to eat but well worth the slurping and finger licking.

Tortilla heaven. Messy to eat but well worth the slurping and finger licking.

Thanks Richard and as they say in the Lone Star State; Yeeeeeehaaaaaaa!

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Latest comments
  • I am deeply impressed (haha) that you went to the trouble of buying a tortilla press and making your own. The adobo looks pretty darned good too. The only thing missing is a picture of you wearing the hat. Please rectify. 🙂

    • I will have to go on a holiday to Spain Linda. Then I can come back with sunburn, a stuffed donkey and a sombrero that fits.

  • Great blog, photos and flavour too I would imagine. Very nice Conor. Always great to eat with your hands, though a wipe down poncho may also be an idea.

    • My better half tells me she is at the end of her tether with me wiping my hands on the back of my pants as I prepare food. I do this unconsciously. I have to add that I am also paranoid about food hygiene, washing my hands (and drying them in a towel) numerous times during food prep.

  • Wow Conor, you sure went all out on this one, getting a tortilla press and all. So few ingredients for such a fine looking dish. Looks oh-so-delicious! 🙂

  • Welcome to the new world order my friend. Ole!! PS I want your tortilla press.

    • The new world order has me cooking Chinese food like a mad thing. The American stuff is a legacy waiting to happen (if the Chinese do turn out to be the vast economic power of the 21st century that they appear to be).

  • Great post, Conor, and quite different from my version indeed. As you don’t like suggestions, I won’t suggest to try making it with pork stock 😉 I like the tortilla press, which looks a lot better than mine. I have done flour tortillas, but have yet to try corn tortillas. Good to see that blender was still alive when you made this. Oh and I know just what you mean about washing my hands all the time — not just for hygiene, but also for taking pictures!

    • Thanks Stefan. I must apologise for my rudeness regarding suggestions. The pork stock would be excellent. The corn tortillas are very tasty. The blender is a shocker. The camera has had its share of sauces smeared on the controls.

      • Oh well I even had the audacity to send you a suggestion in the mail with a bribe 🙂

        Definitely want to try the corn tortillas. I have a feeling I will get to that after the trip to DFW…

        • Yoiu will probably be sick of them by the time you leave. I hear they eat little else (apart from chilis).

  • This former Texan is very happy that her Irish friend took up the challenge and did it first class. 🙂

    • Thank you Karen. The highest praise possible!
      Best,
      Conor

  • I might have to give this a try after we burn last week’s big batch of carnitas! Your tortilla press is very cute, but I am still resisting buying one. Have to admit, rolling the tortillas is a tricky task and I have yet to make a perfectly round one, but I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet 🙂 They are worth the work though as they taste much better than store bought!

    • There is little comparison with store bought. Though, I do have to perfect the process. They take a fair time cooking too, for such a thin thing.

  • I like everything about your blog. The ability of this latest post, to make me want to rush out and buy large chunks of pork and photograph it, just confirms it.

    • Thanks Claudia,
      I liked the big pork cutting shot myself. Big chunks definitely yield more flavour. They also allow us to fool ourselves by saying things like “I only had three pieces” as we reach for more…

  • Conor, you are too funny. I wish I could have met you and your wife when we were in Dublin. This is one fabulous dish, and I love that you’ve embraced chile peppers! I have a gadget, electric, that flattens the tortillas and then cooks them at the same time. It’s very handy, although you don’t get the nice browning as you do with a cast iron skillet.

    • Thank you Mimi. It really is a pity we did not hook up. However, the world is a small enough place and it can only be regarded as a pleasure postponed.

  • “The onions sweat like an Irishman in a Texan desert.” Ha!
    I’m impressed you got tortillas right on the first go.

    • Thanks, we have done them since. They were slightly better the second time. However, either are far, far tastier than anything one can get in a store.

  • Yeeehawww indeed, Conor! Looks fantastic.

    • Thanks Tommy,
      Texan praise is the highest praise (it would be wouldn’t it?).
      Best,
      Conor

  • As a native Texas, this post made me smile and laugh (a LOT!) Yeeee-HAW! 🙂

    • And that would be native Texan. Yes, I really can spell.

      • No doubt you learned that in ‘big school’. Everything’s big in Texas!
        Best,
        Conor

    • Excellent. We are benefitting greatly from Richard’s big hearted chili generosity. It’s good to give something (even a laugh) back to Texas.

  • Howdy! 😉 Such great writing, Conor. Your prose is so funny (and punny: “Why did the Texan rob the bank? Because he kneaded the dough.”). Being from Texas (insert any adjectives here that you choose!), I fully endorse your authentic, beautifully prepared Tex-Mex recipe. I am so impressed that you were able to find masa de harina… it really does create the most gorgeous texture and flavor. For the the record, we do need to find you a clay or ceramic tortilla warmer… every Tex-Mex restaurant and household in the great nation (oops, I mean state!) of Texas has one. 🙂 Yippee-kie-yo-yay… Shanna

    • Well hot diddly dang Shanna. Eldest daughter sometimes uses two warmed bowls (one inverted), lined with kitchen paper for the warmer. This time, they didn’t last long enough for it to matter. Yee Haaaaaa!

      • Oh my. “Hot digiddy dang?!” We are both in trouble. 🙂 When I lived in Spain in 2004, people would ask where I was from – and I replied Texas. There reply was always “BUSH?!” Yippee Yo Kye-Yae to you and your smart daughter!

  • Nicely done, Conor–speaking as a man who’s off to San Antonio on Wednesday to see his brother and Texan sister-in-law. Beautiful tortilla press. Tortillas are something special made fresh–others pale in comparison. Pretty soon people are going to start calling you the Tommy Lee Jones of Dublin. Ken

    • Travel safely. Bring plenty of water for your horse. At 5′ 6″ tall, I don’t think the 10 gallon hat and snakeskin boots (with brass tips) would suit me somehow.
      Best,
      C

  • Sure could use bit of Texan sunshine round these here parts Conor. I’ve been stroking my chin at the the idea of buying a press as my rolling skills are at pre-school level. I really should get one. Lovely looking dish as always Conor.

    • I like that, “stroking my chin”. The press makes it very easy and great family activity too. Everybody wants a go at pressing their own. All good fun.

  • And why oh why did I miss this post? I’m coming in a little late but you have to know this is right up my (most recent) alley. I want to own a tortilla press too! I’ve been cooking up chile’s for a few weeks now and this one is a must try. And I don’t mean that in a “I must give it a go one of these days”. I’m really going to make this. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • I look forward to the post. My chili education is an ongoing process and I am enjoying it no end.

  • I’ve no doubt that a certain Texan out there is quite chuffed at the accuracy of this meal, right down to the homemade tortillas too! I’m impressed! Love the gratuitous meat shots and there’s something so lovely about butchering a huge hunk of meat.

    • Thanks Alice. We worked hard at the authenticity. Right down to the hat!

  • Oh Lord, i’m really wanted this spicy carne adovada and also your tortlla presser!!!!

    • You are welcome for Tex Mex dinner next time you are in Ireland.

  • I’ve been lucky enough to have been tasted freshly-made tortillas and they are nothing like store-bought, except maybe their size. Purchasing a press was money well-spent, in my opinion, for your carne adovada deserves nothing but the best. You’ve created a great dish, Conor.

    • Thanks John. We enjoyed it no end and it is great fun to poke the Texans every now and again.

  • Oh man, delicious! And tasty pictures too. Drool …

    • Hi Sanjiv,
      Long time no see. Good to see you back.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Wow, what a great blog! Tex-Mex is one of my all time favorites, your food looks delicious! Detailed post and great pictures 🙂 I linked to your site from another blog and I am glad I did!

    Michael 🙂

    • Thanks Michael. Great to see you here, particularly when you are saying nice things.

  • I’m late to this fiesta, but muy bueno partner! That looks good enough to make me want to slap my pappy! I hope you chased it down with an ice cold Dos Equis (amber)!

    • But of course Adam. Is there anything else to go with this fine delight?

      • Absolutely, Conor. But, we’ll have to discuss it in the taxi cab.

  • Love the post, came across it while searching for info on where I could purchase a tortilla press, I’ll be following (and enjoying) your posts in the future I’m sure, now where did you manage to get the press from, as you mentioned they are not exactly common in Ireland?.?

    • Hi Sharon, my darling and thoughtful eldest daughter bought it on Amazon.

  • As a native Texan, I have to say that I am deeply impressed. You could serve that in the Lone Star State with kudos.

    Beatriz

    • Thanks. I will have to make it there one of these days.

  • Tremendo este post Y nuevamente este post mejora

    • Muchas gracias por las amables palabras.
      Conor

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