Recipe Project #80-81: Adobo sauce and Lomo de Puerco en Adobo

I’ve made this a couple of times this year, and happily found that one can freeze adobo sauce in 1/2 cup bags for future reference. Since the process of making it is a bit fiddly (but not hard), it’s convenient to make quite a bit at a time. The texture is slightly affected but the taste isn’t, and there’s nothing easier than dumping a couple of chicken thighs and a frozen blob of adobo in the crockpot, adding a half-cup each of broth and orange juice, throwing in a few crushed garlic cloves, and then adding a sprinkle of mexican oregano. Set for 8 hours, turn halfway through, and serve over rice for quick and dirty arroz con pollo.

But it’s worth it to work all the way through Lomo de Puerco en Adobo on a day when you have time. And really, once you have the adobo sauce it’s very easy to throw together, since 95% of the time involved goes to the marinating.

Both recipes are from Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican. The puerco is slightly adapted to as not to be a stand-alone recipe.

Adobo Sauce
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 medium (about 2 ounces total) dried chiles anchos, stemmed, seeded, and deveined
6 medium (about 1.5 ounces total) dries chiles guajillos, stemmed, seeded and deveined
1/2 inch cinnamon stick (or about 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1 clove (or a pinch ground)
10 black peppercorns (or a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground)
2 large bay leaves, broken up
1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds (or a generous 1/8 teaspoon ground)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Toasting the chiles and garlic: Roast the garlic cloves on a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning frequently, until blackened in spots and very soft, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool, skin, and roughly chop.

While the garlic is roasting, tear the chiles into flat pieces and toast them a few at a time: Use a metal spatula to press them firmly against the hot surface for a few seconds, until they blister, crackle, and change color, then flip them over and press them flat to toast the other side.

Toasted chiles

Soaking the chiles: Break the chiles into a small bowl, cover with boiling water, weight with a plate to keep submerged and soak 30 minutes. Drain, tear into smaller pieces, place in a blender jar and add the garlic.

Finishing the adobo: In a mortar or spice grinder, pulverize the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, and cumin.

Spices for adobo

Add to the chiles along with the oregano, thyme, salt, vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. With a long series of blender pulses, reduce the mixture to a paste: Run the blender for a few seconds until the mixture clogs, then scrape down the sides with a spatula and stir; repeat a dozen times or more until the mixture is smooth. Don’t add water unless absolutely necessary or this marinating paste won’t do its job well. Strain the paste through a medium-mesh sieve into a noncorrosive container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate.

Lomo de Puerco en Adobo

1 batch of adobo
3 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 2/3 cups broth (preferably pork), plus a little more for thinning the sauce
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Sugar, about 1 tablespoon
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
2-3 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, with only a thin cap of fat on one side

Heat 2 tablespoons of the lard or oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat .Fry the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 8 minutes. Scoop out, draining as much fat as possible back into pan, and place in blender. Whir with the adobo.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of lard or oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. When quite hot, add the adobo and stir nearly constantly for 5-7 minutes, until it is a thick, deep-burgundy mass.

Stir in 1 cup of the broth and the orange juice, partially cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with sugar and salt, then cool.

Mix together 1/4 cup of the cooled adobo sauce and 4 tablespoons of vinegar; cover and refrigerate the rest of the adobo sauce. If your pork loin consists of 2 pieces tied into a double thickness for roasting, untie them, then place in a noncorrosive container, pour on the sauce-vinegar mixture and coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours, turning the meat in the marinade several times.

About 2 hours before serving, remove the meat from the marinade and set out to warm to room temperature. Build a charcoal fire and let it burn until only medium-hot. Position the grill about 6 inches from the coals and brush it with a little oil.

When the fire is right, remove the pork from the marinade and lay it on the grill, fat-side down. Turn it periodically until it feels firm and reaches an internal temperature about 150; the cooking will take roughly 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Set the cooked meat on a wire rack over a plate and let it rest in a low oven.

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