Posted by johngl
The other morning, I found myself standing in front of the open fridge wondering what the hell to make for dinner. In and amongst the food clutter — there is no shortage of things to eat in there — I noticed a pound of sous vide pork sirloin — part of my “ham making” experiments — still sealed in the bag. I also noticed some spicy Italian sausage links I’d cooked up the night before (for Italian sausage subs) and some as yet unused pizza dough. Wandering over to the pantry, I spied a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and several large cans of whole plum tomatoes. There was an avocado on the counter that was pushing the envelope of ripeness.
And so evolved this recipe for Pork Tinga.
Normally, pork tinga uses Mexican chorizo as a flavoring agent, but I deemed the Italian sausage was close enough for this kind of dish. Also, knowing that the sirloin was rather “hammy” I’d need to cut down on any added salt to the dish. I cut an Italian sausage in half, peeled off the casing, then chopped it up. I cut the sirloin into about 1/2″ cubes, and tossed those into a pan where I already had some onions caramelizing.
While these were continuing to brown, I fished out the slow cooker from the cabinet and set it to low heat for 8 hours.
I went back to the stove top, added the chopped Italian sausage to the mix, heated it through, then tossed the whole mess into the slow cooker along with a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic. I suppose I should mention that the onions were caramelized in a proprietary blend of bacon and duck fat (hereinafter called BaaS and DaaS, respectively).
Now that the leftover meats — along with a caramelized whole onion and garlic — were in the slow cooker, I grabbed that can of chipotles in adobo and fished out four peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, scraped out the seeds, and chopped them up. I popped them into the mix.
For that can of whole Italian plum tomatoes, I used the most glorious spousal unit’s technique of scissoring the tomatoes into smaller bits whilst still in the can. It’s a much less messy than fishing out the tomatoes and chopping them with a knife. I then dumped the entire contents of the 28 oz can into the crockery.
It was time to herb things up a bit. Not for me, it’s for the sauce! I dropped in about a half teaspoon of dried thyme, a half teaspoon of dried epazote, and a couple of large Turkish bay leaves. I gave it a quick mix. This was smelling pretty good!
Fast forward about four hours.
I was checking on the pork and noticed it looked a bit watery, so I left the top off the slow cooker after stirring. This allowed for evaporative moisture loss to thicken things up a bit. It worked perfectly.
At eight hours, I gave it another look. The meat was tender, the sauce was good and thick, and the tomatoes had cooked down nicely. Still, the meat was looking a little cubic, so I grabbed my potato masher and went after the “cubes”. Whilst holding the potato masher, it dawned on me that I’d forgotten the potatoes!
I went to the wine cellar and fished out a couple of russet potatoes, then peeled and cubed them. I put them in a veggie steamer for roughly six minutes. This kept them firm, yet completely cooked.
In a pan laden with more B&DaaS, I sizzled the potatoes for about a minute, then added the now shredded pork (thanks to Mr. Potato Masher).
I still needed some flour tortillas. Earlier, I thought I had some in the freezer, but that turned out to be a false memory. I watched a show on false memories recently and they are way more common than we think they are. Apparently, we are not so smart.
Anyway, I mentioned that unused pizza dough earlier. Yep, it’s pretty much the same stuff used in a flour tortilla.
I combined the two dough balls, kneaded them a few times, then split that ball into quarters and rolled out four 8″ diameter tortillas. In a very hot, dry cast iron skillet, I cooked them off for about 45 seconds per side. When I flipped them, they puffed up nicely. Perfect!
I put them in a zip top bag and covered that with a towel to help keep them warm.
I grated some cheese (moz and cheddar) and deseeded the avocado.
I’d nearly forgotten the libation! Mortal sin!
Using the method I described in a previous post on home made orange liqueurs, I have on the left, orange peeling in tequila and on the right, orange peelings in cognac. When making margaritas, I mix equal parts of these two flavored liquors instead of using Cointreau. They are wonderful.
Now primed, I was ready to do some plating.
This just proves that if you stand in front of your open refrigerator long enough, something will come to mind that can turn leftovers into something way better than the sum of the parts.