Adobo Marinade

  • Yield 1 1/2 cups

This is a very versatile sauce. It can be used as a marinade for grilled meats, chicken, and seafood, or as a sauce for braising meats or making chile.


5 large garlic cloves, 4 unpeeled and 1 peeled
4 large ancho chiles (2 ounces), wiped clean, cut open, and seeded
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
5 peppercorns
1 clove
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar


  1. Heat a flat griddle or large, heavy skillet and toast the unpeeled garlic cloves, turning once or twice until they are slightly softened (they’ll give slightly when squeezed) and browned in patches, about 8 minutes total. Peel.
  2. Meanwhile, in the same griddle or skillet, toast the chiles in batches, turning and pressing with tongs until they are fragrant, pliable, and have turned a brighter red, about 1 minute. Transfer the chiles to a bowl of cold water and let them soak to soften, about 20 minutes. Drain.
  3. Toast the cumin, peppercorns, and clove in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Put the spices, drained chiles, toasted garlic and raw garlic clove, water, vinegar, oregano, salt, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if necessary to help the mixture blend properly.

Note: The Adobo Marinade keeps chilled for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

Variation: Substitute 2 ounces guajillo chiles (about 8 large) for the ancho chiles for a brighter red yet equally delicious sauce without the sweet edge from the anchos.

–From Just Tacos by Shelley Wiseman, published by The Taunton Press. Reprinted with permission from The Taunton Press.



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