Inspiration: With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I wanted to make a nice, authentic Mexican meal over the weekend when I had some time to put into it. One of my favorite cookbooks is Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, a book that my parents bought me for Christmas one year. Everything that I’ve tried from that cookbook has been fantastic, so I knew that I wanted to use it to find a new recipe for my Cinco de Mayo meal. The recipes in the book all tend to be very involved, though, which I why I chose to make my meal over the weekend. I’ll be making something simpler on Tuesday.
What we Loved: Everything about this meal was fantastic. It was absolutely wonderful, and one of the best meals that I’ve made all year. The stew (called tinga poblana) consists of pork, chorizo, tomatoes, potatoes, and a lot of spices, and the layers of flavor are just amazing. At the end of cooking, the recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to be added to the stew, and they provide a fabulously rich, smoky, and spicy flavor to the sauce. I love the salty, greasy flavor of chorizo, so I loved its inclusion in this dish, and I also really appreciated the flavor of the avocado and the pepperjack cheese. The avocado added a nice, cooling contrast to the spicy dish, and the pepperjack cheese melted nicely down into the stew. This dish made my house smell wonderfully smoky and delicious, and it exceeded my expectations completely, even though I went into the recipe thinking it would be great.
Helpful Hints: This dish is time consuming, so make sure that you have plenty of time to prepare everything. Bayless suggests serving the stew with crusty bread, but I used some flour tortillas. We dipped them into the sauce and also broke them into pieces, filling them with some of the stew and wrapping them up like mini soft tacos. I loved eating the stew this way, but I’m serving the leftovers tonight with bread as Bayless suggested. The recipe also doesn’t call for cilantro, but I used a little as garnish and loved the flavor that it added, so I think it would taste great to use it liberally when serving, too.
Pork Stew with Smoky Tomato Sauce, Potatoes, and Avocado (Tinga Poblana)
Source: Rick Bayless, Authentic Mexican
1 lb lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (marjoram and thyme)
3 bay leaves
2 medium red-skinned boiling potatoes, quartered
3 large tomatoes
4 oz chorizo sausage, removed from casing
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
4 teaspoons of adobo sauce from the can
Salt and pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
8 slices jalapeno jack cheese (or Queso Fresco, as the original recipe calls for)
Cilantro, to garnish (or onion slices to garnish, as the original recipe calls for)
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pork. Add the herbs and the bay leaves, and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the meat from the pot, and cut it into 3/4 inch pieces. Reserve one cup of the cooking water.
2. While the meat is cooking, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, approimately 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces when they are cool enough to handle.
3. Place the tomatoes under the broiler for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the skins are charred and peeling away from the tomato. When the tomatoes have cooled, remove the skins, and chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.
4. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven. Crumble the chorizo into the pot, and saute until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the chorizo from the pot with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
5. Add the onions and the pork to the pot, and cook until very well-browned, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, and chorizo to the pot. Mix well, and simmer for five minutes. Stir in the potatoes, the reserved cup of broth, the chopotle peppers, and the adobo sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for approximately 10 minutes.
7. Scoop the stew into a bowl, and decorate with alternating slices of avocado and cheese. Top with a bit of cilantro and serve.