Cast Iron

Amped Up Adobo

April 20, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Makes about 3 & 1/2 cups
Author Notes

When the coffee recipe contest was announced I knew I wanted to do a savory dish. My mind instantly went to molé, but my research ended up taking a turn toward adobo. Coffee seemed like a great match for the smoky, spicy, sweet, and tangy Latin American barbeque sauce. I used the adobo recipe from Mesa Mexicana by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger as the backbone of my recipe. I've replaced the chicken stock in the original recipe with strong brewed coffee. I've also added additional spices, and used a mix of dried chiles for increased depth of flavor. The resulting adobo makes a great marinade for pork or chicken, and I recommend grilling the marinated meat after it's had a good 3 or 4 hour soak. - hardlikearmour —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

Those of you who don't like it spicy might be turned off by the first three ingredients, but don't be! In actuality, the peppers provide intense flavor without intense heat. Using this sauce for grilled chicken, I shared this recipe with some friends and we ALL loved it. When I divulged what was in the sauce everyone was surprised. One friend doesn't like cinnamon (?) and my husband doesn't like coffee, but you can't pick those flavors out. It all just works together to make a delicious sauce. - nannydeb —nannydeb

What You'll Need
  • 4 ancho chiles (dried)
  • 4 guajillo chiles (dried)
  • 1-2 dried chipotle chiles
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 & 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 T)
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 & 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 & 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Using kitchen shears remove stems from chiles, and cut down one side of each chile. Open chiles and remove seeds. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Heat the chiles until softened and just beginning to change color - turning several times to prevent burning. You will need to do this in batches. Place the toasted chiles in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Add vinegar and water to the saucepan with the chiles. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes to soften the chiles. Toss the chiles occasionally to ensure they all get soft. Allow mixture to cool for 5 or 10 minutes before proceeding.
  3. Transfer chiles and cooking liquid to work bowl of food processor or blender. Blend until a paste has formed, scraping sides of bowl once or twice during the process. Leave work bowl on processor.
  4. Wipe out the saucepan you used for soaking the chiles, then heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and starting to brown (8 to 10 minutes.) Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and garlic, and cook until fragrant, stirring continuously, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add coffee to deglaze the pan. Transfer onion mixture to the work bowl of the food processor with the chile paste. Process until fully blended about 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down the bowl once or twice in the process.
  5. Transfer chile mixture to the saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. You will want to use a spatter shield or partially cover the pot for this step.
  6. While the chile mixture is simmering, combine the brown sugar, lime juice, orange juice, tomato paste, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk until fairly homogenous (it's okay if little bits of the tomato paste don't want to incorporate.) Add the mixture to the simmering chile mixture. Simmer an additional 15 to 20 minutes (again with the spatter shield.)
  7. Transfer to a storage container and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating. Will keep in the fridge for about a week, and much longer in the freezer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • aargersi
  • dymnyno
  • VanessaS
  • fiveandspice
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

27 Reviews

LeBec F. February 1, 2016
In my Hermits recipe for this coffee contest, I mentioned how flexible coffee is with other flavor pairings, and I think yours is a perfect example of that- the coffee providing an underlying deep background note above which everything ,from onion and cumin to the citrus, tomatoes and vinegar, plays well. (I can see a T shirt empire now: "Coffee: Plays Well With Others" ! ) Great job. I could also see this as a great sauce to pair with poached/fried eggs and avocado for a hearty brunch.
aargersi April 26, 2011
Oh My Stars - I just made a batch of this and it is FABULOUS - perfect balance of heat and sweet and rich and a hint of bitter - LOVE it! I am glad it makes a decent amount so I can use it a bunch in the next few days!!! SO excited to add this to my repetoire - thanks for an awesome recipe!!!
hardlikearmour April 26, 2011
Wow! It means a lot to me that a fabulous cook like yourself tried my recipe and liked it! Thanks for your input! You made my day.
dymnyno April 22, 2011
I can hardly wait to try this!
hardlikearmour April 23, 2011
Thanks, dymnyno! It's makes a great barbeque marinade. Do let me know if you try it (and also which wines you'd pair with it.)
VanessaS April 21, 2011
Yum, sounds great!
hardlikearmour April 21, 2011
Thanks, VanessaS! My husband and I certainly enjoyed it.
fiveandspice April 21, 2011
You've done it again! This sounds absolutely phenomenal!!
hardlikearmour April 21, 2011
Thanks! We just finished the last of the grilled adobo chicken breasts tonight, and I'm already feeling sad.
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
Thanks, all! Had a really long day at work, and it's nice to get home and have supportive comments from so many stellar food52ers!
wssmom April 20, 2011
This is a totally inspired recipe! Looking forward to trying it out ASAP!
mrslarkin April 20, 2011
Thanks for creating a savory recipe!! It sounds really great.
Midge April 20, 2011
This sounds amazing!! Look forward to trying it if and when grilling season ever gets here.
TiggyBee April 20, 2011
This sounds great!! I've been tinkering around with coffee for the past few days and am thinking I should switch to tea.
Panfusine April 20, 2011
wow, what a versatile sauce, just scrolling down the ingredient list is making me drool!!...
I could just add this to some stir fried veggies & scoop it over some steaming Basmati Rice,
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
I think that would be great! It's got a pretty bold chile flavor, so if you give it a try with the veggies let me know how you like it. I was thinking about coating some potato wedges with it, and tossing them on the grill, but time got away from me last night!
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
You just gave me an awesome idea. I bet it would be amazing to toss this with some sweet potato cubes and roast them.
Panfusine April 20, 2011
As soon as I get my hands on those varieties of dried Chiles,I definitely will make this Sauce!
boulangere April 20, 2011
I'd like to eat a bucket of it all alone. You've created something of great depth and brightness. Wonderful!
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
Thank you, boulangere. I wasn't sure about it when I tasted it alone, but when I ate the marinated and grilled pork and chicken I was completely sold.
aargersi April 20, 2011
YUM! A gal after mine own heart with this one.
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
LOL, aargersi! I think you'd want to add extra chipotles, though.
aargersi April 20, 2011
You know how I am ... :-)
Sagegreen April 20, 2011
Great job. I love the citrus notes in this with the chilies.
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
Thanks, Sagegreen! The citrus adds a little sweet and a little sour to the mix, and does round out the smoky, spicy, slightly bitter flavor from the chiles.
gingerroot April 20, 2011
YUM! I absolutely love this and bet it would be delicious on ribs.
hardlikearmour April 20, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot! I bet it would be great with ribs, too.