I've never been to New Mexico, but I certainly plan to. When I received my newest Issue of Cook's Country (March 2009) I saw this recipe and I was intrigued by the ingredients. I'm half Mexican, so Chipotle in Adobo sauce is a staple in my pantry. There are two other secret ingredients, which I'll let the article in Cook's Illustrated explain.
One of my personal achievements, in learning how to improve my cooking techniques, was to learn the art of searing meat. For this recipe, I used my trusty cast iron Dutch Oven. It take close to 30 minutes to sear the pork into beautiful crusty brown bits of meat. I was left with a nice fond to cook my onions and to "bloom" the spices, so there was a lot of flavor.
In the meantime, the prep for the sauce came together pretty fast. I love my immersion blender. Pureeing food in a blender is messy work, in my opinion. I was able to puree the sauce, right in my Dutch Oven in a manner of minutes. If you won't own one, I can't rave enough about what a useful cooking tool that they are. I added the seared pork back into the pureed sauce.
At the last minute, I decided to put the stew into my slow cooker, rather than braising the meat in the oven. I needed to leave the house, and I don't think it's smart to leave my oven on if I'm not home.
When I returned home, five hours later, the house smelled "smokey"-- not as in "fire" but as in flavor! I had to skim off some fat, but there wasn't a lot of it. Cook's Country showed a photo of the recipe where the sauce looked really thick. I had a beautiful rich sauce, so I decided to serve this over brown rice. Fortunately, I keep Trader Joe's frozen organic cooked brown rice! Rather than adding the fresh cilantro into the sauce, I garnished it on top of the stew.
I made a frisee salad with a light citrus sauce and some warm flour tortillas. My husband and I were very happy with the flavor of this recipe. On a scale of "ten" being Fire Engine Spicey Hot, this recipe rated about a "six" on our scale. If you can't handle too much spice, I would decrease the amount of chipotel to 1/2 Tablespoon. If you love heat, then go for it! I used 1 Tablespoon, just like the recipe called for.
The pork was so juicy and tender!