When you look at different home-style Latin American recipes, the term “adobo” pops up quite a bit. But what is it? Every recipe seems wildly different, from spice rubs to stewing sauces, I have never found the definitive adobo recipe. All of them are authentic, but distinct.
Classic Adobo is a Concept
The word “adobo” simply means “daubed” or “smeared” which makes sense when you consider that the word “adobe” comes from the same roots. Adobe houses are made when plaster or mud is smeared across the outside walls for sealing and insulation. Adobo recipes always require that the meats are well coated with spicy goodness.
Adobo is more of a concept rather than a recipe. Dark and spicy, the ingredients usually include chiles, garlic, salt and a combination of onions, cilantro and maybe tomatoes. In other words, the usual suspects.
Meats such as pork, chicken or beef can be stewed in adobo, pan seared or occasionally fire roasted. However the meats are cooked, the result is always succulent and darkly spicy. But like I said, there is no definitive recipe, as far as my research has shown.
Adobo is Regional Specialty
Regionalism is huge when making an adobo. The adobos of the Caribbean can be dry spice rubs, while in Mexico adobos contain dried chiles, and in Guatemala adobos include achiote, a red spice that is usually mixed with vinegar. So, thinking of adobos more like a concept than a technique or a recipe unravels its mystery.
Our local adobo includes chile ancho, and is not that different than asado de puerco, which is a chile infused pork stew. The main difference between asado de puerco and adobo is the addition of vinegar and cinnamon in the asado. Adobos tend to be simpler recipes.
I’m sharing a recipe for an easy Mexican style adobo, which can be used to stew either pork, chicken or beef. I used chicken thighs in one presentation, and pork ribs in another. Both were served over Toasted Brown Rice with Caramelized Onions and Peas, which is an amazing side dish that absorbs all the delicious sauce.Print
Classic Mexican Style Adobo
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
- Category: Meats
- Method: Stewing
- Cuisine: Mexican
2 oz. dried chile ancho (56gr)
1–2 cloves garlic
2 cups water (500 ml)
Salt to taste
¼ cup vegetable oil (62ml)
2 lbs. pork pieces or chicken pieces, with bones if possible (1kg)
1 sprig fresh oregano
Fill a small saucepan half full of water and add the chiles. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the chiles are softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and discard the water, remove stems from the chiles. Remove the seeds by rinsing under water.
Add the cooked chiles to the container of a blender. Add the garlic and water, and season lightly with salt. Puree until smooth.
In a separate covered stew pan with a lid, add the vegetable oil and heat. Add the chicken or pork pieces, and brown for about 15 minutes. Pour in the adobo sauce, add the sprig of oregano, and cover the stew pot. Lower the heat, and allow to simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Serve over rice