Back in the days when I was young and I wouldn’t get a backache from sleeping in my bed at night, I did volunteer work at an orphanage in Mexico.
While there, I learned how to do everything from laying a course of concrete block to digging a 20-mile stretch of trench for water pipes. Fine, it wasn’t 20 miles, but after three days of spending time in a long, sometimes muddy hole with a shovel, it felt like it.
Generally, the meals at the orphanage were as expected; scrambled eggs and beans for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch. In the evenings the group of us would supplement that diet by walking to the main drag in the small town and buying tacos from the one street vendor we knew whose meat could be trusted (think stray dog [shudder]).
However. Fortune shined upon us during one trip and we happened to be at the orphanage when it celebrated a big anniversary. A huge fiesta was planned; a party that included a visit from the mayor, authentic Mexican dances (beautiful) and a pig roast.
Said pig was slaughtered on the grounds, an awful experience to hear and watch, then buried on top of red-hot coals for a day or so. It was fascinating to hover around and see the process and how deftly the men who prepared the beast did their work. I was anxious to taste the results.
It’s in a situation like this that bravery and stupidity mesh together tightly. Bravery is eating pork from a very rural Mexican farmer’s herd that’s been cooked in very questionable ground. Stupidity is eating pork from a very rural Mexican farmer’s herd that’s been cooked in very questionable ground.
Many in our group didn’t risk it. I did. I just couldn’t be in Mexico, at an authentic fiesta, with an authentic ground-cooked hog in front of me and not dive into the experience fully.
It was absolutely, amazingly delicious. And I didn’t get sick.
Any time I eat a Mexican pork dish I think of that experience and it’s a good memory. As I prepped for this dish, I thought about how that hog was cooked and wished I knew more about how they prepared it. We both used slow cookers, I know that much. Mine’s just a little less scary.
This dish has a fair amount of prep. It took me about a half hour to cook the chorizo and chop everything. Be ready for that if planning to make this during the work week.
Other than cutting the meat, browning the chorizo and chopping the rest of the vegetables and aromatics, it’s just a matter of throwing it all in the slow cooker, mixing it up, turning it on low and walking away for the day.
As I was dicing three chipotle peppers and spooning up a tablespoon of adobo sauce, I knew this would be too hot for Dudette, and it was. Don’t go saying bad things about my momness though, I had shepherd’s pie available for her so all was good.
Hubby and I enjoyed this very much. We both love the flavor of chipotle and it reigned supreme, which it’s supposed to do in tinga poblana. The pork was tender and juicy and the sauce was outstanding. This is delicious, and a keeper.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I wouldn’t bother cutting the pork into chunks. I like longer, less uniform shreds, so I’d just make two to three large hunks instead.
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 8 ounces uncooked chorizo sausage, casing removed
- 2 medium red potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
- 1 14½ ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce,* chopped
- 1 tablespoon canned adobo sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 10 ounce package tortilla chips
- 2 avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups crumbled queso fresco
- Trim fat from pork shoulder; cut meat into 1-inch cubes. Set meat aside. In a large skillet cook chorizo over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes or until well browned, using a wooden spoon to break up chorizo as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to a double thickness of paper towels to drain.
- In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine chorizo, pork, potatoes, onion, tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, salt, and sugar.
- Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours.
- Discard bay leaves. Spoon off fat from cooking liquid. Use two forks to pull meat apart into coarse shreds.
- Serve stew mixture with tortilla chips; garnish each serving with avocado slices and queso fresco.