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Pati's Mexican Table - South by South of the Border with Vivian Howard (803)

Pierna de Cerdo Adobada

Adobo Pork Butt

8 Servings  


For the marinade:

  • 1/2 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the meat:

  • 1 4- to 5- pound pork butt or shoulder, bone in
  • 3 bay leaves

TO PREPARE To make the marinade:

  • Put the tomatoes, onion and garlic on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place under the broiler for about 10 minutes until charred, mushy, and soft, flipping once halfway through. Remove from the oven and once cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves. (Alternatively, you can char and toast on a preheated comal or skillet set over medium-low heat.)

  • Place tomatoes, peeled garlic and onion in the jar of a blender.

  • Toast the guajillo and ancho chiles on a heated comal or skillet for about a minute, flipping a few times, until lightly browned and fragrant. Place the chiles in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and simmer about 10 minutes until soft and rehydrated.

  • Transfer the rehydrated chiles, along with 1 cup of their cooking liquid, to the blender with the other ingredients. Add in the orange juice, vinegar, piloncillo, marjoram, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and puree until completely smooth. Let cool.

To roast the meat:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F with the rack set in the bottom third.

  • With a small paring knife, pierce the pork butt all over so it will absorb the marinade. Place it in a large oven-proof casserole or baking dish and cover with the marinade* and add the bay leaves. Cover with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil.

  • Place in the oven and roast for 3 hours or until meat is completely tender. Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°Carefully remove the lid or foil, baste the sauce all over the meat and return to the oven, continue cooking another 20 to 30 minutes until browned on top.

  • Transfer the meat to a chopping board and let rest. Meanwhile cook the sauce in the casserole over medium-high heat or until thickened to a gravy consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Slice the meat, coarsely chop if desired, and place on a platter and dress with the sauce.

  • *Note: You can marinate the meat for up to 48 hours or roast right away.

Texas Caviar

Courtesy Vivian Howard Makes 4 cups



  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 cups dried field peas or black eyed peas, cooked, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup small-diced cocktail tomatoes, plus 1/4 cup of their liquid*
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • In a medium bowl, gently stir together the ingredients. Serve right away, or let the caviar marinate refrigerated overnight or up to 3 days before serving. Serve at room temperature with chips, endive, celery, or as a side.

  • *Note: If you don’t have cocktail tomatoes and would still like to make this caviar, marinate 1 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes in 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt for 30 minutes.

Turnip Roots and Greens

Courtesy Vivian Howard Makes 5 cups


  • 8 ounces semi-dry country-style link sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 pounds turnip roots, with their greens attached
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook until the sausage starts to brown. Pour in the water, cover, and bring it up to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, wash the roots and greens thoroughly. If you’re using Purple Top or another variety of large turnip, separate the roots from the greens and cut the roots into quarters. If you’re using Hakureis, you can leave them whole.

  • Make sure you still have 2 quarts of water in the saucepan and add the roots and greens at the same time. They will not be completely submerged right away, but check back in a minute or two and stir things around. The greens will have cooked down, and both the roots and greens should be submerged in the cooking liquid. If they are not, add just enough water to barely cover them.

  • Simmer covered for about 10-15 minutes. You’re looking for the roots to be quite tender and the greens to be soft. Once they’re done, drain off all but 1/2 cup — pot liquour is the life-fixing chicken soup of the South.

  • Add the salt. If you have a collard chopper, roughly work through the roots, greens and sausage. The end product ain’t gonna be pretty, but it is delicious. If you don’t have a collard chopper, get one, and use a large fork in the meantime. Serve warm.

Cuatro Leches Cake with Plums and Apricots

Makes 10 servings


  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, extra to flour pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Cajeta or Dulce de Leche
  • 6 plums, pitted and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 apricots, pitted and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • Unsalted butter, to butter pans


  • Set oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°Butter and flour two 9×13” baking pans.

  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, thickened and intensely yellow. Incorporate the oil, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla and continue beating until well mixed. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  • In another large bowl, with a hand mixer or a whisk, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, add the sugar and continue beating until they hold stiff peaks. Taking turns, with a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture and the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture until well incorporated. Scrape the mixture onto the two prepared pans.

  • Bake for 22 to 24 minutes until a toothpick comes out moist but not wet. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool.

  • Meanwhile, make the milk mixture in a bowl by combining the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and the remaining 1 cup whole milk. Mix well with a whisk.

  • Once cakes cool to room temperature, poke holes in both cakes with a toothpick or fork. Pour half the milk mixture onto one of the cakes. Let the milks seep in for at least 10 minutes.

  • Drizzle the cajeta or dulce de leche all over the wet cake and place on all the sliced plums and apricots. Top with the second cake. Pour the rest of the milk mixture on top and let it soak up the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to eat.

  • When ready to eat, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the cake and serve.