Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pork Tinga

About a week ago my mother came home after a visit with my brother. She raved about a Mexican dish he made, I immediately inquired about what he made and where the recipe came from. I am always on the lookout for authentic Mexican recipes. Pork Tinga from Cook's Illustrated.

The recipe called for a pork butt, when I went into the supermarket I saw a pork shoulder butt. Well is it a butt or a shoulder? After a brief conversation with the butcher he informed me the shoulder butt was the same thing my recipe was calling for. I had him remove the bone, and if I had used my brain I would have had him trim the fat and cut the meat into the size I needed.

Now I have to let you know a couple of months ago I was trying another recipe that called for a pork shoulder, after slow cooking it in the oven for quite some time it was time to take out. It smelled delicious and I couldn't wait to try what I had made. Much to my surprise when I went to cut the meat I saw a rather large piece of pig skin with scorched fur on the shoulder. That was enough to make me throw this whole shoulder into the trash. What a waste! After a full inspection I can already see that the pork butt I bought was well trimmed, thank goodness.

Cook's Illustrated Pork Tinga

2 pounds boneless pork butt , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions , 1 quartered and 1 chopped fine
5 medium garlic cloves , 3 peeled and smashed and 2 minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Table salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ground chipotle powder (see note)
2 bay leaves

3/4 cup vegetable oil
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (see note)
Table salt
Queso fresco or feta cheese
Fresh cilantro leaves
Sour cream
Diced avocado
Lime wedges


1. FOR THE TINGA: Bring pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic cloves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 6 cups water to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to surface. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook until pork is tender, 75 to 90 minutes. Drain pork, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Discard onion, garlic, and thyme. Return pork to saucepan and, using potato masher, mash until shredded into rough ½-inch pieces (see Step-by-Step below); set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shredded pork, chopped onion, and oregano; cook, stirring often, until pork is well browned and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, chipotle powder, reserved pork cooking liquid, and bay leaves; simmer until almost all liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves and season with salt to taste.

4. TO FRY TOSTADAS: Heat vegetable oil in 8-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees. Using fork, poke center of each tortilla 3 or 4 times (to prevent puffing and allow for even cooking). Fry 1 at a time, holding metal potato masher in upright position on top of tortilla to keep it submerged (see photo below), until crisp and lightly browned, 45 to 60 seconds (no flipping is necessary). Drain on paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

5. TO SERVE: Spoon small amount of shredded pork onto center of each tostada and serve, passing garnishes separately.

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