A tale of two recipes, tostadas and spaghetti

Last night we made something called Tinga, which is a shredded pork that you serve over tostadas with feta and avacados (make absolutely sure you have advacados–they make this dish!). The linking feature to the recipe kind of sucks (because you have to subscribe to America’s Test Kitchen’s website), so I’m just going to post it here. Just remember, it’s from America’s Test Kitchen if you decide to repost it.

Spicy Mexican Shredded Pork Tostadas (Tinga)
From Season 11: Tostadas and Empanadas
Serves 4 to 6

The trimmed pork should weigh about 1 1/2 pounds. Tinga is traditionally served on tostadas (crisp fried corn tortillas), but you can also use the meat in tacos and burritos or simply served over rice. Make sure to buy tortillas made only with corn, lime, and salt—preservatives will compromise quality. For tips on baking tostadas, see How to Bake Tostadas (related). Our winning brand of ready-made tostadas, Mission, is also an excellent choice. We prefer the complex flavor of chipotle powder, but two minced canned chipotle chiles can be used in its place. The pork can be prepared through step 1 and refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days. The tostadas can be made up to a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Ingredients

* 2 pounds boneless pork butt , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
* 2 medium onions , 1 quartered and 1 chopped fine
* 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
* table salt

Garnishes

* 5 medium garlic cloves , 3 peeled and smashed and 2 minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
* 4 sprigs fresh thyme
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (see note)
* queso fresco or feta cheese
* fresh cilantro leaves
* sour cream
* Diced avocado
* Lime wedges

Instructions

* 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.

Technique

Crisp-Tender Mexican Shredded Pork

1. SIMMER AND DRAIN
Simmer pork with aromatics to infuse with vegetal flavors. Drain, reserving 1 cup of liquid.

2. SHRED
Mash pork with potato masher to maximize surface area for browning.

3. SAUTÉ AND BRAISE
Cook pork with onions and oregano until exterior is deeply brown and crisp, then simmer in sauce.

Technique

*Weighing Down Tostadas

MULTITASKING MASHER
A potato masher makes frying tostadas a breeze. Stood upright, it keeps the tortilla fully submerged in the hot oil, eliminating the need for flipping.

I would say this recipe was pretty good. My husband thought it was good, I thought it was good, my four year old wouldn’t touch it. He’s like that sometimes though. The flavor is kind of unexpected, but then we’ve never used chipotle powder before (I found it in a box containing “bullion-like” cubes in the aisle that has “international foods”.) The avocados are what make this dish though, because they are the perfect counter to the heat of the meat mixture, and the feta gives it a little bit of a tang and a good texture. It’s kind of expensive, so only plan to make it if you are having a special occasion or just like to make expensive dishes. It was more as a special dinner for my mexican-food-loving husband, because he’d had a rough week at work and I wanted to do something nice for him.

So after the tostadas, I had some feta cheese leftover that I figured I should just use now so that it doesn’t turn into a fuzzy science project in my fridge. I just happened to be checking my blogs that I’m subscribed to, and when following the link, I came upon another blog that ruins my name choice should I ever decide to do a cooking/recipe blog, called Picky Eater Blog. I just went to the page that has the recipes listed on it, and came up with the recipe for Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Feta.

This stuff took all of 20 minutes (most of that getting the water to come to a boil and hunting down my package of almonds–it cannot be said that my cupboards are organized) to make up, and was a winner. My son sucked it down like it was the only thing he’d eaten in months, hubby and I agreed that the flavor was good, and who would have thought to add feta to it? That was so awesome! I recommend this one for any time you are kind of running behind schedule and need to just get something healthy on the table quickly–it doesn’t take any more time than heating up a jar of that nasty store-bought stuff, and it’s so much better for you!

BTW, I just recently bought my first ever jar of that minced garlic–I’ve been missing out for far too long! I’m totally a convert!

Hope you are having a great weekend! 🙂

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