This was the center piece of our wedding feast. For our particular wedding feast, we needed a dish that we could either A) make in advance or that B) we could make once we got to the island (as previously mentioned, said island has limited electricity and limited gas stove space, thus limiting our options a bit in terms of cooking. Also, we were hosting a wedding, which sort of limited the time we could spend cooking). Furthermore, the wedding was in July, so the dish needed to be, C) appropriate to eat in July. A braise might not normally be the first dish that pops into your mind as summer fare, but this braise, developed in Mexico, a region known to be hotter than Seattle, seemed to fit the bill exactly. It’s called Tinga Poblana (Pork with Smokey Tomatoe Sauce, Potatoes and Avocado). It comes from one of our favorite books, Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican.
When we first tested it on a smaller group of about 15, each of the 15 gave it rave reviews. It was fantastic. Spicy enough to make it interesting, chunky enough to make it hearty, and topped with onions, queso fresco, and avocado, which have the effect of lightening the dish and making a hearty stew somehow seem “fresh”.
For the wedding, we made it on the houseboat before leaving for the San Juans, on the the Thursday before the Saturday wedding. It got to sit in the fridge for a day and a half before being served, which only helped it. After the ceremony, Talley and his dad ran straight up to the kitchen, dumped the Tinga into huge pots and got it reheating over a big fire. Piece of (wedding) cake.
Smoky Pork Tinga Poblana
Adapted from Authentic Mexican
- 1 lb lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½ inch pieces (free-range)
- ½ tsp mixed dried herbs (such as marjoram and thyme)
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 medium boiling potatoes, quartered
- 1½ lb ripe tomatoes OR one 28-ounce can of tomatoes
- 4 oz chorizo sausage, removed from casing
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil or lard
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and thinly sliced
- 4 tsp of adobo sauce from the can
- Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
- Sugar to taste, about ½ tsp
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 4 oz queso fresco or other fresh cheese, cut into 8 fingers
- a slice of fresh onion, broken into rings
Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil and add the pork. Skim the foam that rises to the top in the first couple minutes, then add the herbs and the bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 to 1½ hours. Remove the meat from the pot, then strain the broth and reserve 1 cup. When the meat is cool enough, dry it and cut it into 3/4 inch pieces.
While the meat is cooking, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, approimately 12-15 minutes (you will cook them a bit more later, so don’t overdo it). Drain, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Seed the tomatoes then chop into ½ pieces. Fry the chorizo in the oil on medium until done, about 10 minutes, breaking up any clumps as it cooks. Remove the chorizo, retaining the fat in the pan.
Raise the heat to medium high and add the pork to the pan, cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the pork is nicely browned on the outside, then remove it from the pan. Add the onion and fry, stirring frequently until well browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute or two.
Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, chorizo and return the pork to the pan. Mix well, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, the reserved cup of broth, the chipotle peppers, and the adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
When ready to serve, scoop the tinga into a dish and decorate with alternating slices of avocado and the fingers of cheese. Add a couple onion rings to the top and serve with crusty bread or warm tortillas.