Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Non-Carne Adovada (Red Chile Seitan)

When Tuesday feels like Thursday, or feels like next Thursday without even a weekend in between, you know you need a little break. A mini mental vacation. Perhaps even a mini dinner vacation. A trip for your tastebuds. Something to take your senses away from the work week for a little bit, so they return refreshed and ready to drink the swillish coffee at the office the next day. And the next. And the next. Man, is it really only Wednesday?

My favorite vacation destination is New Mexico. The adobe architecture, rich history, breathtaking landscapes ... oh, and the FOOD!

New Mexico cuisine is rich with sweets flavored by cinnamon, anise, or honey, with unleavened bread baked in clay ovens, and of course with spices that warm you from the inside out and leave you with a slight sniffle but don't burn your tongue. This latter is provided courtesy of red and green chile. You can choose one or the other or both (referred to as Christmas), and its good every which way.

[EDIT: The bread baked in clay ovens is leavened. I was thinking of Fry Bread, which isn't leavened but also isn't baked in a clay oven, it's fried. But anyway they're both good, and I guess I was missing them both.]

So when I wanted a break from it all yesterday, I decided to veganize a wonderful New Mexico dish called Carne Adovada. In its omni form, it is made by marinating pork for ever and ever in red chile sauce and then slowly, very slowly, baking the pork. The result is a thick sauce covering pork so tender that it practically chews itself in your mouth. Pssshhh. No problem!

I put my veganizing mind to work and...

From Foodsies!

In the end, I had dinner in hand by 8pm and it was splendid. It technically requires one specialized ingredient that will need to be ordered from New Mexico. However, if you aren't dedicated to ordering Red Chile Sauce, you can use Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce (found in a can from the international section of your local large grocery), but don't tell anyone from New Mexico that you did so.

I do think the texture of the Seitan needs a little work, as it isn't as mouth-meltingly tender as the pork would normally be in this dish. However, the flavors and the sauce came out great, so it's a pretty minor quibble.
Because I was lazy and just whipping this together (mini dinner vacation after all), I used some Seitan that I already had in the fridge. It was my Mexican-spiced version of the baked Seitan under Method 2 at the bottom of this post. It was great, but it doesn't have that melt-in-the-mouth tenderness that slow-cooked pork has.

Next time I may make the Seitan using a different method (boiling, or slowly cooking in a Dutch Oven) or make it the same way as before but with some soy flour replacing some of the vital wheat gluten to make it more tender, or I may just shred the baked Seitan and serve it like that rather than cubed. Or I might just cube it smaller and cook it at lower heat and for longer. Who knows?

But what I have below works just fine and will make you a hearty and delicious Non-Carne Adovada without any fiddling at all.

Non-Carne Adovada (Red Chile Seitan)


1 Cup Red Chile Sauce
(purchased or made from powder - see powder to sauce recipe at the very bottom of the post)
1 Batch
Mexican-spiced Foil-Baked Seitan (Method 2)
1 tsp
1 tsp
Onion Powder
1 tsp
Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp
Canola Oil or Earth Balance
All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups

*If you are using the Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce - you heathen - then you probably want to use the sauce straight and ignore all references to water in this recipe.


First, dice up your log of Seitan.

In a small bowl, mix 2 TBSP of the Red Chile Sauce with about 1/2 Cup of Water. Pour into a shallow casserole dish.

Dump the pieces of Seitan into the casserole dish and stir around until completely coated with the Red Chile sauce. Set aside.

From Foodsies!

Now get out a medium pan and heat a TBSP of oil or a TBSP of Earth Balance on Medium-High heat. Once it's warm, add in 2 TBSP of flour and whisk briskly to form a roux (French word meaning a thick slurry of flour and fat). Once it's mixed, continue to heat until the mix starts to darken in color and/or it starts to give off a nutty/toasted smell.

Now immediately pour in the rest of the Red Chile Sauce and the remaining water. Heat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When it starts to bubble and thicken (a result of the roux), turn the heat down to Medium-Low and add your spices.

Stir and let heat another 2 or 3 minutes and then add your Seitan and any sauce from the casserole dish that comes with it.

Continue to heat on Low for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 or so, or until the sauce has all thickened and just about disappeared except for where it has glommed itself to the Seitan.

Remove from heat and serve with something cool and refreshing (like corn). I served with some experimental "eggs" and spinach, but those aren't really ideal sides for this dish.

From Foodsies!


New Mexican Red Chile Sauce is incredibly versatile and wonderfully tasty. You would be doing yourself a favor if you bought yourself some. You can buy the sauce in concentrate from The Shed among others.

You can also make your own from Red Chile Powder (lower shipping costs you see). Once you have your powder, you'll need to heat up about 2 cups of water and then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Also, any Red Chile Powder you buy should have instructions (probably a bit more involved) that you can follow as well.

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