Tinga is a traditional Mexican dish which usually consists of very slowly braised pork shoulder, which is shredded and served over fried tostadas. For things of this nature, I turn to my secret weapon: hearts of palm. Their stringy texture is perfect for replicating tender meat with plant-based ingredients. I initially drafted this recipe to be done in the slow cooker, but I forgot to prep it ahead of time, and I think, in retrospect, that if I had done it that way, it would have gone mushy on me. It really didn't take long to make, and W, my dear meateater, loved it. I also baked the tostadas instead of frying them to lighten them up. On top of the tinga mixture, you will see a quick salsa I put together. W's mom used to make a recipe she called "Firecracker Pork" which was very similiar to tinga. Her recipe included a tropical fruit salad with papaya, mango, pineapple, lime juice, jalapeño and cilantro. I didn't have any appropriate fresh fruit around, but I had leftover pineapple from the Sweet and Sour Tofu I made earlier in the week. The tangy sweetness of the salsa is a great foil for the smoky spiciness of the tinga. Alongside, I made calabacitas y elotes (squash with corn), the recipe for which can be found here. For more info on how to handle hearts of palm as a shredded meat substitute, see this entry.
1 T. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chipotle chili powder, or ½ (7 oz.) can chipotles in adobo
1½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 large, dried bay leaf
1 (15 oz.) can whole hearts of palm, drained and shredded
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
6 baked tostadas (see this recipe for the method)
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant.
Stir in the spices (chile powder through black pepper) and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaf and shredded hearts of palm, and stir well to combine. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the hearts of palm are tender, then continue simmering, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the cilantro and serve on the baked tostadas. Top with the optional fruit salsa (recipe follows).
Fruity Lime Salsa
½ c. crushed pineapple, drained
¼ c. chopped onion
3 T. chopped cilantro
½ small jalapeño, minced
1½ T. lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Note: The original recipe calls for papaya, mango and kiwi, but I didn't have them on hand!
Perfect with an ice-cold Corona...