Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos

I know that it’s already ocho de Mayo but I’ve been busy at work (and in the garden!) so I’m finally just getting around to posting about our yummy dinner from Saturday night.  Ever since we made BBQ Chicken Quesadillas back in March we’ve been obsessed with La Tortilla Factory’s Green Chile Corn Tortillas and, as a result, we decided to make a meal that utilized these delicious little disks for Cinco de Mayo.  We pulled out our trusty Mexican Everyday cookbook by Rick Bayless and Matt quickly declared that the Pork Tinga Taco recipe sounded like a winner.

After a quick mid-day trip to the grocery store we had the taco filling prepped and in the Crockpot.  Most of the work for this recipe is done during the initial prep stage (6 hours before you eat) which is nice because this means that your dinner is basically sitting their waiting for you once dinnertime rolls around.  In our case we were able to use our “free time” in the evening to enjoy homemade Salsa and Margaritas.  🙂

Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos with Avocado and Queso Fresco (from Mexican Everyday)
(serves an army in one sitting or serves two for dinner and provides 4-5 leftover lunches throughout the week)

You will need…
1 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 lbs. Boneless Pork Shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 – 15 oz. cans Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes, undrained
3 canned Chipotle Chiles en Adobo, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1 tablespoon Adobo canning sauce from Chipotles
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
3 cloves Garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1 1/4 teaspoons Salt
1 Medium White Onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 Mexican Chorizo Sausage, casing removed
16 Corn Tortillas, warmed
1 cup Crumbled Queso Fresco Cheese (substitute feta if you can’t find QF)
2 large Avocados, pitted and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

Directions:
Approximately 6 hours before you plan to eat dinner, line the bottom of your slow cooker with the potatoes and top with an even layer of the pork.  Combine the next seven ingredients (tomatoes thru salt) in a bowl and mix together.  Pour the tomato mixture over the pork and top with the sliced white onion.  Cook on “high” for 6 hours.

Pork Tinga mixture after slow-cooking for 6 hours. After this photo was taken we poured out the excess liquid, reduced it, and stirred it back into the pork to retain the intense flavor.

When your pork is done, brown and crumble the chorizo, drain the excess fat, and stir it into your pork mixture.  Break up the pork into smaller shredded pieces as you stir.  At this point check to see how much liquid is in your slow cooker.  If yours is anything like ours was, it will be way too watery to spoon onto a tortilla.  Rather than throwing away this excess liquid, pour it into a sauce pan and boil rapidly to reduce.  Stir the syrupy reduced liquid back into the meat for maximum flavor.

Warm your tortillas.  An easy shortcut is to sandwich a tortilla between two damp paper towels and microwave it on high for 30-45 seconds.  This makes the tortillas warm, moist and pliable without dirtying a frying pan.  🙂  To build your Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos, place a few spoonfuls of the pork mixture on the warm tortilla and top with queso fresco and avocado.  Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Over the holidays I discovered a blog called Natural Noshing while searching for a gluten-free meatball recipe to serve to our extended family.  Although I didn’t end up making the specific turkey meatball recipe that I found on Nora’s blog, I was enthralled by her beautiful photographs and delicious, clearly-laid out recipes.  I began to daydream about creating my own blog and, although I don’t have very much cooking experience and my photography has primarily been limited to dogs flying through the air, I eventually got up the nerve to start this blog!

I had originally planned to make Kung Pao Chicken in our wok tonight since this is one of our favorite meals and it hasn’t yet appeared on TheLittleGSP.  I had, in addition to the many sauces and oils needed for Kung Pao, some chicken breast and red bell pepper, and, as of 8:32am that’s what was for dinner.  That all changed at 8:33 when I got my automated WordPress notification that a new recipe was up on Natural Noshing.  The recipe?  BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with (you guessed it!) chicken and red pepper.  Perfect!

Before you read any further, you should definitely check out the original recipe and beautiful photos on Natural Noshing.  I am pretty stubborn about never quite following recipes exactly (I always tend to add extra onions, extra garlic and a shake or two of crushed red pepper for good measure…) so when in doubt follow Nora’s recipe, not mine!  🙂

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas  serves 2-3

You will need…
2 Chicken Breasts
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/3 cup Chopped Cilantro (apparently I like to be heavy-handed with Cilantro as well!)
Approx. 1/2 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (I didn’t have the sharp cheddar that the original recipe called for)
6 Corn Tortillas (ours were Green Chile Corn Tortillas)
Approx. 3 Tablespoons of BBQ Sauce (we are using Homestyle Black Cherry Smokehouse BBQ Sauce from Whole Foods)
Sour Cream and Guacamole (optional but highly recommended!)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the uncooked chicken breasts.  Boil the chicken breasts for 10-15 minutes or until they are fully cooked through.  (I actually lost track of time as my chicken was boiling.  This is usually Matt’s job but he was at lacrosse practice so I did it myself.  He tells me that you cook them “until they are done” so just do that and you’ll be fine…).  Alternatively, you can avoid this chicken-boiling step by just using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Remove the chicken from the water and shred it with two forks until it looks something like this:

Sauté the pepper and onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste and then transfer the pepper and onion mixture to a bowl.

To assemble your quesadillas, place a corn tortilla in the pan that you just sautéed the peppers and onions in.  You’ll want the tortilla to sizzle in the oil without burning (this is a very fine line on our not-so-sensitive electric range).  Top the tortilla with cheese and pour a few drops of BBQ sauce evenly around the tortilla.  When the cheese starts to melt place a few pieces of shredded chicken and a thin layer of the pepper/onion mix on one half of the tortilla.  Sprinkle with cilantro and fold the “empty” side of the tortilla over onto the full side.

Allow the quesadilla to continue sizzling until the tortilla reaches your desired level of crispiness.

Serve with guacamole and sour cream!