Pork Tinga Tostadas + The Meat Book
Welcome to Cookbook Week on Macheesmo! I’ll be posting recipes from five cookbooks this week and giving away copies! All winners will be announced next Friday (11/14).
Carnitas, crisp little fried bits of pork, are probably at the top of my list when it comes to traditional taco toppings. I assume I’m not alone here.
One problem though: Real pork carnitas takes a full work day to really do correctly. I make them occasionally (Grilled pork carnitas) and they are a delicious and fun food project. Not something you make on a whim though.
This recipe for Pork Tinga is from this other category of Mexican fillings called tinga. It’s an all encompassing word that basically means shredded meat. Generally though tinga is used for fillings (empanadas, etc.) because while it’s very flavorful, it doesn’t have a lot of texture to it.
This genius recipe though, from the new Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book, fixes the issue by using Pork Tinga (which takes about two hours instead of 10) and then crisps it up in a skillet.
Those Cook’s Illustrated people are smart. We knew this.
1) Cube pork and add to a large pot with quartered onion, smashed garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, dried peppers, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 6-7 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2) Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pork is tender, 75-90 minutes. Skim off any fat as it cooks.
3) Drain pork, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Discard the add-ins. Shred pork into shreds using fingers or fork.
4) When ready to serve, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shredded pork, diced onion, and dried oregano. Cook until pork is crispy and well-browned, 7-10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
5) Add tomato sauce, chile powder, bay leaves, and 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season with salt to taste.
6) For tostadas, heat a good drizzle of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Poke a few holes in a corn tortilla with a fork and add to skillet. Use something like a potato masher to hold tortilla and keep it submerged in oil. Fry until it’s lightly browned and crispy, 45-60 seconds. Drain on a paper towel.
You can fry the tostadas and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to eat. They are fine at room temp also.
Top fried tostadas with pork tinga and toppings!
Cooking The Pork
When you make carnitas, it usually involves roasting a whole pork butt slowly for hours and hours which creates a delicious crispy crust on the pork.
This method skips all of that. Instead, it focuses on cooking the pork relatively quickly and infusing it with lots of flavor.
You start by just cubing up about three pounds of pork butt. I recommend cutting off any large pieces of fat.
Add these a pot with a quartered onion, some smashed garlic cloves, a few thyme sprigs, and some dried chiles. The dried chiles weren’t in the original recipe, but I figured they couldn’t hurt and I always suck at following recipes perfectly.
Bring this all to a simmer and simmer it over medium-low heat for about 90 minutes until the pork is really tender.
You know there’s a lot of flavor in a pot like this.
Strain the liquid and save it. That stuff is seriously gold. You’ll want to use some of it later in this Pork Tinga recipe (about a cup) but you can freeze the rest and basically have a delicious pork stock for soups or any tex-mex base.
Then shred that pork into good-sized shreds.
Finishing the Pork Tinga
The genius part of this recipe is that you don’t just serve the pork like this. Instead, shred it all and add it back to a skillet with some oil over medium-high heat. Add in some diced onion as well and the pork will crisp up in the hot oil.
Then add the tomato sauce and about a cup of reserved cooking liquid. Season the mix with some dried oregano, chipotle chile powder, and salt to taste.
Once most of the liquid has evaporated you’re ready to go.
I make tostadas like this a lot. Just add some oil to a skillet and then add in a small corn tortilla. Poke it with a fork a few times to let out the steam and cook it until it’s crispy. It should only take a minute or two to make one.
Then let it drain on a paper towel and keep pumping them out until you have enough to serve.
Pile some Pork Tinga on the tostada with all the necessary toppings: queso fresco? Avocado? Cilantro? Hot sauce? Lettuce? Limes? All of the above?
Two or three of these bad boys makes a really delicious meal. It’s also the perfect game day dish.
Tinga is a thinga!
Okay. Let’s talk cookbook!
I’ve been a big fan of the America’s Test Kitchen crew for as long as I can remember. Their recipes are always some of the most tested and reliable out there so when they come out with a full tome of a cookbook like this, you know it’s gonna be good.
Okay… obviously this book isn’t for vegetarians, but if you’re a meat lover, then it’s a great addition to your shelves. It has over 400 recipes and describes great ways to cook everything from poached chicken to full pork roasts. It’s one of those books that I can pretty much guarantee I’ll use regularly just because it’s a resource as much as it is a recipe book.
I’m using Rafflecopter to manage these giveaways, but if the widget below doesn’t load for you… no worries! You can always just leave a comment to be entered to win.
Check back tomorrow for another great cookbook giveaway!