Adobo sauce is a type of hot sauce or marinade used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. Adobo is a Spanish word for "sauce" or "marinade," and the dark red adobo sauce is used in many contexts in Mexican food. Its main ingredients are typically chile peppers, garlic, and vinegar, though variations are common. Tomatoes, onions, and a variety of herbs and spices often complete the recipe.
Adobo sauce may be used as a condiment or as a marinade. One popular recipe involves using chipotles in adobo sauce. This dish, using smoked jalapeño peppers can be found canned in the Hispanic foods section of many grocery stores, but it is easy to make at home. Chipotles in adobo sauce make an excellent side dish for nearly any Mexican or Southwestern meal, or they can be added to pasta or meat dishes, other sauces, or any other recipe that would benefit from a bit of smoky spice.
To make a simple version of chipotles in adobo sauce, combine seven to ten medium dried chipotle peppers with stems removed, one third cup sliced onion, five tablespoons cider vinegar, two cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of ketchup, and a quarter teaspoon of salt with three cups of water. Simmer all the ingredients over very low heat for an hour to an hour and a half. If you wish, you can puree the sauce before serving.
Adobo sauce is also used to marinate a variety of meats, such as chicken, pork, and beef. Meat dishes prepared in this way are called adobado and are not to be confused with the similarly named Filipino dish, adobo. To make your own chicken, beef, or pork adobado, begin with eight dried guajillo chiles and eight dried ancho chiles with the tops and seeds removed. Fry them in hot oil for about ten seconds per side, then boil them in 12 cups of water and a half cup of white vinegar. Leave them to soak in the pot overnight.
The next day, remove the chiles and discard the soaking solution. Puree the chiles in a blender with a bit of chicken or beef broth, depending on the meat you are using. Next, sauté one onion and six cloves of garlic, diced, in a large saucepan. Add the chile paste, two cups of broth, one teaspoon each or black pepper and cumin, one half teaspoon cinnamon, one quarter teaspoon salt, one tablespoon oregano, a quarter cup each of vinegar and lemon juice, three quarters of a cup orange juice, and two tablespoons tomato paste.
Cook the entire mixture for about half an hour, or until it is as thick as you would like it. You can use your homemade adobo sauce to marinate meat before cooking, cook meat in the sauce, or use it as a condiment. Feel free to experiment with flavors, such as adding a fresh jalapeño pepper to the blender mixture for added heat.