Last week instead of carnitas for our burrito/taco filling, I tried a recipe for “tinga,” another yummy variation on spicy shredded pork. The recipe was supposed to serve 4 to 6, but it just barely served 4 of us (Steph was out). It said that a 2-pound pork butt trimmed of fat should yield 1½ pounds of meat, but I didn’t weigh mine after trimming. I think 1½ pounds of meat would’ve been plenty, so I guess mine was just extra fatty (it did take a helluva lot longer to trim than I’d expected). Next time maybe I will get closer to 2¼ pounds and see if that does the trick—leftovers wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. (There's no photo because it just looked like brownish-reddish glop—this dish gets points for personality rather than beauty.)
2 pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ground chipotle powder or 2 minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 bay leaves
Part 1: Bring the pork, onion, garlic cloves, thyme, salt, and water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook until the pork is tender, 75 to 90 minutes. Drain the pork, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the onion, garlic, and thyme. Return the pork to the saucepan and, using a potato masher, mash until shredded into rough ½-inch pieces; set aside (or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days).
Part 2: Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shredded pork, chopped onion, and oregano; cook, stirring often, until the pork is well browned and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the tomato sauce, chipotle powder or chiles, reserved pork cooking liquid, and bay leaves; simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and season with salt to taste. (Andy was in charge of Part 2 and he missed the part about mincing the chipotles, so he just removed the whole chiles at the end—which was just as well, because they had already imparted plenty of hot smokiness for my kids’ palates. He also missed the part about adding the bay leaves….)
Serve in tortillas or taco shells, along with your favorite garnishes—shredded soft cheese (like mozzarella or Monterey Jack) or crumbled hard cheese (like queso fresco or feta), salsa, shredded lettuce, guacamole or diced avocado, sour cream, etc.