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Carne Abodaba with a Halo of Blue Cornbread

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

So luscious and unusual! This dish is pretty as picture, too, with tender pork strips in bright red chile sauce both filling and encircling a ring of blue cornbread layered with two cheeses. Get the pork in the oven first, and then mix up the cornbread and bake it alongside the meat. The pork and cornbread should be done at about the same time.

Makes6 to 8 servings

Cooking Methodbaking

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationgluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentblender, food processor

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecheesy, herby, hot & spicy, meaty, rich, savory, spiced

Ingredients

  • ½ cup caribe (crushed Northern New Mexico red chile)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2½ pounds pork loin chops, cut about ½-inch thick and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1 (1-pound) can whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 4 ounces Cheddar cheese, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ½ cup chopped onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine caribe, water, salt garlic, oregano, and cumin in a food processor or blender and process until well blended. Pour a little of the chile purée into a 9 × 13-inch baking pan, and then add a layer of pork chops. Add more purée, the remaining chops, and then remaining purée. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer, or until sauce is thickened and meat is fork-tender.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare cornbread. First, generously butter a 9-inch ring mold. Line bottom only of mold with waxed paper. Butter paper. In a large bowl, stir together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs, and then beat in melted butter and sour cream. Combine egg mixture with dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Gently fold in corn. Pour 1/3 of batter into prepared ring mold, and then alternate slices of Jack and Cheddar cheese on top of batter. Pour on remaining 2/3 of batter and bake about 45 minutes, or until bread is golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in center (not down through cheese) comes out clean. Cool in mold on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

  3. When pork is tender, remove from oven. Remove and discard bones from chops and cut meat into ½-inch-thick strips. Return meat strips to sauce in a baking pan. To serve, gently run a dull knife around edges of cooked cornbread, and then invert onto a platter. Lift off mold and peel off paper. Spoon 2/3 of pork mixture into center of ring, and the spoon remaining 1/3 around ring. Garnish pork mixture with chopped onion.

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