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.