Friday, January 14, 2011

Mexico Month - Tinga Poblana

I have mentioned my Authentic Mexican cooking book before here.  It is an excellent cook book despite the white dude from the United States that graces the cover and authors the book.  I know I will be using this gem quite a bit this month.

I picked up my newest shipment of meat, a half of a pig this time, right before Christmas, so I knew it would be pork I was to be cooking.  (Note: There is not an inch available in my freezer for anything except meat.  I couldn't even fit all the pork I picked up; I brought one huge ham to my parents for Christmas and the other ham is living in a friends freezer until I have more room in mine.  Who am I?)  I had an itch to cook up a huge hunk of meat for my first Mexico month post from Portland, so I opened to the Authentic Mexican index and started looking.

The tinga poblana, or pork with smoky tomato sauce, potatoes, and avocado, jumped out at me for two reasons.  First, it is a chipotle based sauce, and I love chipotle peppers.  Second, there is a variation of the recipe for fillings instead of the traditional stew, so I knew I could make a huge batch, eat some as stew and use the rest for other recipes.  

As an added bonus, it is a perfect meal to display in my new serving ware.  I received a salsera from Ben and Santina for Christmas, and while in Sayulita, purchased a serving bowl to match.

My older sister got me beautiful seahorse plates for Christmas as well, so, I am feeling pretty stylish with my presentation.

1 lb lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs (such as marjoram and thyme)
3 bay leaves
2 medium (about 10 oz total) boiling potatoes like the red-skinned ones, quartered
1 28 oz can tomatoes, drained
4 oz chorizo sausage, removed from its casing
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 canned chiles chipotles in adobo, seeded and thinly sliced
4 tsp of the adobo sauce from the can of chiles
Salt, about 1/2 tsp
Sugar, about 1/2 tsp

For the garnish:
1 ripe, medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
4 oz Mexican queso fresco, cut into 8 fingers

1. The meat.  Bring about 1 quart salted water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan (I used my dutch oven), add the pork, skim the greyish foam that rises to the top during the first few minutes of simmering, then add the herbs and bay leaves.  Partially cover and simmer over medium heat until the meat is tender, about 50 minutes. (If there is time, let the meat cool in the broth.)  Remove the meat, then strain the broth and spoon off all the fat that rises to the top; reserve one cup.  When the meat is cool enough to handle, dry it on paper towels and shred it.

2. The potatoes, tomatoes, and chorizo.  Boil the potatoes in salter water to cover until just tender, 12 - 15 minutes; drain, peel (if you want), then chop into 1/2 inch dice.  Seed the tomatoes, if you wish, and chop into 1/2 inch dice.  Fry the chorizo in the oil in a large, heavy skillet (again, I used the dutch oven) over medium-low heat until done, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any clumps.  Remove, leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet.

3. Browning the main ingredients.  Raise the heat to medium and add the onion and pork.  Fry, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes.

4. Finishing the stew.  Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, and chorizo, mix well and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in the potoatoes, the reserved cup of broth, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes to blend the flavors, then season with salt and sugar.

5. Garnish and presentation.  When you're ready to serve, scoop the simmering tinga into a warm serving dish and decorate with alternating slices of avocado and fingers of cheese.

My pork shoulder weighed something like 6 or 7 pounds whole, and there was probably 3 pounds or so of shredded meat.  I did not do such a good job of multiplying the recipe above for the increased amount of meat, but it still turned out great.  I used cotija cheese, not queso fresco, as I love cotija.  Lastly, I had to use Whole Foods chorizo which does not compare to real Mexican or Spanish chorizo.  Next time I make this recipe, I will plan better and go to a Mexican market for the chorizo.

I didn't get to enjoy this meal until the third night of cooking. The first night I simmered and shredded the meat (you can imagine that a 7 lb piece of pork takes quite a while longer to cook that 1 lb of cubed meat), the second night I finished off the stew, but had a Blazer game to attend so couldn't finish preparing the meal, and the third night I finally got to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  

I ate the stew in taco form, as you can see above.  I am excited for all the possibilities with this meat.  I'm not sure what to make with it.  Tamales, perhaps?

Bon appetit.


  1. Mmmm...I saw the tamale lady tonight and almost bought a few. You should definitely make tamales!

    Love the colorful presentation!

  2. That looks so yummy... Would you believe I've never had a taco (or actually anything Mexican) with shredded pork? I am such a weirdo. It looks so good. I like pork. And yet I usually stick to black beans or ground beef or fish when it comes to Mexican food. I really need to expand my horizons!!

    Also, I am LOVING the dishes. Very festive.

  3. S1 - My tamales were good, but those beach tamales definitely win.

    S2 - I can definitely believe that you have never had anything Mexican with shredded pork. You aren't exactly an adventurous eater, and this particular shredded pork is filled with tomatoes :) You should try chile verde. I think you'd like it.

    I am happy you both like the dishes. I LOVE them!