Home Farming in Eldorado

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Horno

A horno is an outdoor oven made from adobe bricks built on a pedestal and covered with an adobe mixture of sand, clay and straw in the proportion of 2 X 1 X 1/2. The original design was brought to New Mexico by the Spanish settlers several hundred years ago and was quickly adopted by the pueblo Indians in the area. The original design probably came from northern Africa where it was adopted by the Spanish during their colonization by the Moors. Many kinds of hornos can be seen all over the state and especially on all of the different pueblos. They are mostly used to cook bread goods, chicos and to roast meat and various stews. It is their answer to a slow cooker.

To use ours a wood fire must be made in it for about an hour and a half or until the interior temperature reaches about 550 degrees F. For cooking bread products the coals are removed before the products are introduced. For cooking meat and stews the coals are left in, but are smoothed out on the horno's floor (which was made with high heat fireplace tiles). Various cooking containers are then placed on the floor of the horno. When everything is put in the door on the horno and the smoke vent on the top are sealed and left for about four hours. After which time most of the dishes are cooked (except turkeys in which case I have to take it out, restart the fire and cook it for four more hours.)

We were extremely fortunate that ours was built by the famous micacous potter Felipe Ortego and his apprentices in our walled flower garden in 2008. Feipe lives in La Madera, NM which is a small town close to El Rito.

Felipe is currently is involved giving lessons to those who want to learn the skill of making micaceous pottery.

Constructing the Horno





Re-mudding the Horno

Each year the mud on the outside of the horno must be repaired. Although I cover it with a tarp for most of the year, the exterior coat of mud, sand and straw must be mixed and applied. The first step is to scrape off all of the damaged adobe. I use a wheelbarrow to mix the materials with water then apply the slurry and smooth it with a brick layer's trowel. This all has to be done on a hot, dry day since it takes about a day and a half for it to completely dry.




Pictures of Other Hornos

Internet Horno Recipes

Any of these recipes will work in an horno. All you need are fire resistant pots and pans with good lids. Bon appetit!

Dutch oven cooking 1

Dutch oven cooking 2

Dutch oven cooking 3