Cast Iron

Amped Up Adobo

April 20, 2011
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

  • Makes about 3 & 1/2 cups
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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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.