Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tinga Tinga

I'm certainly always on a Mexican kick. With the increasing crop of quality Hispanic markets around the West Lafayette area, it has become easier to source fresh and affordable ingredients for all my needs.  It's the food I truly miss from Arizona, the pure, unadulterated foods of Mexico.

Such is the case with this recipe for pork tostadas (or tinga, if you will). It's inspired from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated, who also seem to have something for Mexican food. It's a simple recipe, it makes enough for a large family or leftovers, and has additional uses such as fillings for burritos, tacos, etc.  I recommend getting your tostada shells from a Mexican market if you can. Make sure to look at the ingredients. It should read something like "corn, water, salt" or be less than five ingredients. If it's more, walk away. Just walk away. Quality is everything here people.

Shredded Pork Tostadas
Serves 6-8

3 pounds pork butt, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, 1 roughly quartered and 1 chopped
6 garlic cloves, 3 peeled and smashed and 3 minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 bay leaves
1 cup water

For the tostadas
tostada shells
shredded cheese (queso fresco, cojita, or mild feta)
sliced avocado
sour cream

In a large pot, bring pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 6 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface with a spoon. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low until simmering, partially cover, and cook until pork is fork tender, 70-80 minutes. Drain pork, reserving 1 cup of the liquid in a tall vessel (make sure to skim off the fat). Discard the onion, garlic, and thyme. Return pork to pot (no heat) and smash with a potato masher until roughly shredded. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook for about 3 minutes, then add pork and dried oregano, mixing and then pressing the pork down into the pan to make the pork crispy. Cook, stirring occasionally (flip the pork over) until the pork is well browned and slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato sauce, reserved cooking liquid, chile powder, cumin, and bay leaves; simmer until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Discard bay leaves, season with salt.

To serve, spoon pork onto tostadas, top with avocado (or guacamole), cheese, cilantro, and any other fresh toppings you desire. Enjoy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Beef with Broccoli

You know what really bites?  Writing posts ahead of time, then falling behind on your blogging and the season changing.  There is no way I can say "it's a great time to grill" right now.  Well, put it in the can for next summer.

But it is a great time to stir fry!  Honestly, when isn't?  Need a quick meal on a weeknight?  Boom, stir fry.  Unexpected guests?  Boom, stir fry.  See where I'm going with this?  I'm sure a few of these recipes are going to be coming down the pipe as I'm into giving my wok a workout (wokout?).

Strangely enough, this recipe came to me via an email newsletter from my favorite local kitchen store, KitchenArt.  I modified it a bit for some spice, but it's a rather simple and extremely delicious recipe.  Besides Chicken with Almonds, it's the most frequent stir fry around my house.

Beef with Broccoli

1 pound flank steak, sliced thin against the grain
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry (or rice wine)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces (you can peel and use the stems too)
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 slices fresh ginger
3 dried arbol chiles (or other small spicy variety)
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon peanut oil
Cooked white rice

In a bowl combine the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch.  Add flank steak and marinate 10-15 minutes.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil and heat until shimmering.  Add broccoli and cook until starting to brown, about 1 minute.  Add water, cover, and cook for 4 minutes or until broccoli is cooked.  Remove broccoli from pan and spread out in a single layer to cool (this is important as you want to stop the cooking process).

To the now empty wok add the remaining tablespoon oil.  Heat until shimmering and add the garlic, ginger, and chiles.  Cook until browned to infuse the oil.  Remove the seasonings (discard them) and add steak, breaking it up and cooking while stirring constantly until browned and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.  Add broccoli and oyster sauce to combine, cook for 1 minute or until everything is hot.  Serve with white rice.