Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Guatemalan Adobado

Lomito Adobado, hot off the grill
In these days of internet and innumerable TV cooking shows, many have already heard of Adobo, or Adobado. For those who may have missed this particular term, an Adobo is generally a marinade or a sauce, or a marinade that is also used as a sauce. The marinade is often for a meat, and sometimes the meat is grilled after marinating, and sometimes it is stewed. The sauce or marinade itself will vary to some degree, depending on the country or region of a country, and like any other recipe, will vary even in a region, as cooks add "a little of this or that." 

While I lived in Guatemala in the 1970s, the only way I had Carne Adobado (meat in adobo sauce) was buying the meat already in its adobo, and then cooking it at home. I never made the adobo sauce myself. I had a recipe, hand copied from somewhere, but only ever tried to make it once a long while back, when I was again in the States and missing those flavors. The flavors of the sauce made from that copied down recipe came absolutely nowhere near what I had eaten in Guatemala, and in disgust I set the recipe aside, never to use it again. 

Lomito Adobado with Guatemalan Rice and Frijoles Volteados
Then a few years ago I created a Guatemalan cookbook/memoir of a sort as a gift for my oldest daughter's 40th birthday. Any and all recipes, whether copied from someone's book, or a Guatemalan newspaper clipping or from something I approximated myself (with or without help from someone in Guatemala), went into the book, along with memories I had of the food, where I had eaten it and also with many photos found on the internet, of places and things I had seen while there. She loved the book, and the trip down memory lane. But still, many of the recipes were ones I had never actually made myself. 

Since then, 4 years have passed, and I have created a revised edition of this book, again printed here at home, and gave it to my second daughter as she turned 40. At this point, I had tried out more of the recipes, in an effort to get some photos of the finished product for the book. I am still in the process of making more of the recipes, both to test the recipe and to get photos of the dish. One of these was the Lomito Adobado, made last week sometime, and today I am trying out a White Bean with Pork and Chorizo dish (Frijol Blanco con Costilla de Cerdo y Chorizo). This latter will be featured in another blog.

So, back to the Lomito Adobado... In Guate
My old recipe for Lomo Adobado
mala, pork was not easy to come by, and so I take leave to doubt that the Carne Adobado was actually made with pork, yet the recipe I had scribbled down does call for pork (loin or tenderloin). I believe that the meat used in the pre-marinated version I got in Guatemala was likely beef, and a cheaper cut, at that. Regardless, the flavors of the marinade itself were what absolutely made the dish, and this time I decided to see if I could do a better job through "taste-memory" at a 40+ year remove.


Ultimately, while the flavors were not absolutely what I recalled, it surely came far closer this time, and I used pork tenderloin, sliced on a bias, as the meat.  I began with the recipe as the card indicated, tasted the adobo and found it severely wanting, as I had that last time. Still, it was a platform from which to build. I thought about other flavorings, spices and seasonings commonly used in Guatemala and added "a little of this and that", until it finally tasted very close to my taste-memory. I did use slightly less of the annatto powder than I might have, and the color was just a bit paler than I recalled, but it was absolutely delicious, nonetheless, and my husband and I ate that dinner with great enjoyment. I served it with Guatemalan Rice and Frijoles Volteados.

Lomito Adobado with Guatemalan Rice and Frijoles Volteados

Lomito Adobado

serves 4 
(Adobo marinade makes enough for 3 recipes: freeze remainder in separate containers)
Lomito Adobado

1.5 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 4 sections, on a bias

ADOBADO marinade:
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 pounds Roma tomatoes
1 large onion, in wedges
6 - 8 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 guajillo chile pepper, soaked in hot water
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
4 whole cloves
4-inches of true cinnamon (soft quills) stick
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 teaspoons powdered annatto
3 - 4 teaspoons vinegar
2 - 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Cut the Roma tomatoes in halves, lengthwise and scoop out seeds and excess moisture. Set them, cut sides up, on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove them to a blender container. Remove the soaked chili from the water, remove the seeds and stem and add the chili to the blender. If you want more heat, you might leave the seeds in. 

Make Adobado:

Switch the oven to broil and set the top rack to whatever height will accommodate the red bell pepper. Set the bell pepper and the onion wedges on the sheet and set to broil. Toss the onion wedges as they begin to blacken at the edges, then remove to the blender. Turn the bell pepper occasionally until it is blackened all over, then remove the pepper to a sealed zip-top bag or other container to steam for about 10 minutes. Set the garlic on the baking sheet and broil until they begin to char a bit; remove to the blender. Add the oregano to the blender.

Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat and add in the cumin, peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves and the cinnamon, crumbled. Toss with a wooden spoon or spatula to lightly toast and bring out the aromas of the spices. Do not allow them to burn! Remove to the blender container. Add in the salt and annatto powder and blend until completely pureed. Blend in the smaller amounts of vinegar and lime juice, taste and add more if needed for piquancy. 

This makes about 3 cups of adobo. Divide the extra 2 cups into two freezer containers,
Adobado Sauce, finished
label and freeze. Place the remaining 1 cup of adobo sauce into a zip-top bag large enough to hold the adobo and the pork. Combine the two in the bag and seal tightly. Squish the bag around to ensure all the meat is well coated. Refrigerate for three days.

When ready to cook, heat a grill to medium high heat and grill the pork pieces until they reach your desired doneness. Internal cooking temperature should be a minimum of about 150 degrees. Allow the meat to rest, covered with foil, for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  If a grill ins unavailable, the meat can be roasted at 375 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 145 to 150 degrees. Tent with foil before serving, the same as if grilling.


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

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