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‘Man Fire Food’ finds ‘Mud and Steel in New Mexico’ on Cooking Channel

Roger Mooking near the horno waiting for the fire to be just right.
Roger Mooking near the horno waiting for the fire to be just right.
"Photo courtesy of Cooking Channel, used with permission."

On tonight’s episode of “Man Fire Food,” Roger Mooking, chef, musician and lover of all things smoky and delicious, went to New Mexico in the episode titled “Mud and Steel in New Mexico.”

Roger is in Bosque on his first journey to visit the Baca Ranch and Back Yard Grillerz. Richard Baca showed Roger his method of grilling in large round pans that resemble a wok. The method they use here has been in the family over 100 years. They will be making carne adovada using the leg of the pork. After getting the fire started using pine and cedar, they added the chopped pork to the large pans and tons of chili peppers, garlic and salt.

Next they made carnitas, using pork fat, spices, oranges, onions and garlic to the pork shoulder chunks. After they cooked for 45 minutes, they added Mexican cola and condensed milk, let it cook for ten more minutes until done. When Roger tasted the two dishes, he was delighted that he made the trip. The Baca family was happy too, as they all feasted on the delicious dishes they made.

Next stop, the banks of the Rio Grande in Embudo, to meet with Margaret Campos at her farm called Comida de Campos. Roger spotted an horno, a mud and clay oven shaped like a beehive. Margaret is a Hispanic Native American who learned to cook in the horno from her grandfather, who built the hornos. They will be making carnitas in the horno. First, Roger rubbed the spices all over the pork butt, then wrapped it with aluminum foil to retain the moisture. When the coals were going for about three hours, it was time to add the pork and other foods. After wrapping the pork in the foil, it was wrapped in soaked burlap. They soaked corn in water, while still in the husk, threw it into the fire and then put the pork on top. Next, they put a door on the entrance and packed fresh mud over the door, covering it entirely, where it stayed for about twelve hours.

Roger put a wheelbarrow in front of the horno to scrape the mud, and then took the door off. The pork fell apart, and Roger got his taste to affirm how delicious it was. Roger never had corn cooked that long, and when he tasted it, the smoky flavor came through, and he loved its crunch on this episode of “Man Fire Food.”