Cinco de Mayo is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by making some delicious Mexican food at home? I lived in Arizona for eight years, so Cinco de Mayo is something that I’m used to celebrating with good food, good beer, and good friends. Unlike what many people might think, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that day is celebrated on September 16th). Cinco de Mayo is a day to commemorate the Mexican militia’s defeat of the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is most vigorously celebrated in the state of Puebla in Mexico, where it is a day to celebrate Mexican culture through its history, music, food, and more. It’s a very festive holiday in the United States as well, much like St. Patrick’s Day is for Irish-Americans.
I decided that I wanted to make some tasty, yet easy and accessible, Mexican food for this particular holiday. One of my all time favorite chefs it the incomparable Rick Bayless. If you’re a big fan of Top Chef, like I am, you watched him win Top Chef Masters last year, and he definitely deserved it. I went straight to him for some ideas on what to make, and I found a recipe for pork tinga made in the crock pot. I was very surprised to see a Top Chef using a crock pot, but I was also really happy, because it’s been really hot here in New York and I wasn’t too keen on running the stove and oven for hours at a time. This recipe is a bit unusual, but still recognizable and includes ingredients that everyone has access to. The unusual part for me was the addition of potatoes, which I had never put in a crock pot with taco fillings before. I really liked the texture that it added to the pork; you could either leave them whole or shred them up with the pork. The pork is cooked with onions, tomatoes, chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, and, of course, the potatoes. The pork will smell absolutely amazing and your family will be quite pleased with the results, I’m sure. This is one of the less spicy Mexican dishes that I’ve made in a while, as well, so if you’re looking for some extra heat, add in some more chilies or some red pepper flakes, along with a bit of hot sauce on your tacos, if you like. I also made some garlicky mashed black beans to spread on the tacos, which were a perfect accompaniment. The pork comes out so beautifully tender and tasty that you’ll definitely go back for seconds and thirds. My husband and I even made breakfast burritos with the pork the next morning. Bust out your crock pot and have a happy Cinco de Mayo!
Sear your pork on both sides over high heat until browned. Place it in your crock pot with your quartered small red potatoes.
In a large bowl, combine your sliced onions, garlic, tomatoes, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, and salt.
Mix everything up well.
Add the onion mixture into the crock pot with the pork and potatoes. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.
Start to make the beans when you’re about ready to eat.
Satue the garlic in a small pot for a minute or so over medium-low heat until fragrant. Add in the beans and stir until warmed, then add a tablespoon or two of water and mash with the back of a large spoon until they’re a spreadable consistency.
Shred your meat with two forks, mixing up everything in the crock pot with it. Drain a little of the juices into another bowl if needed (you don’t want to serve the meat with too much of it).
Warm up a flour taco, and spread with some sour cream and the mashed black beans.
Place some of the pork tinga in the taco and top with some queso fresco or other fresh shredded cheese.
Enjoy with a cold drink!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt (I had one with a bone, but boneless is fine, too)
- 4 to 5 medium (about ¾ pound total) small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
- 1 large white onion, sliced thinly
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 2 to 3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, finely chopped (they will be canned in the Hispanic foods section of the grocery store; I used 4 chilies because I like mine spicy!)
- 4 teaspoons chipotle canning sauce (I just used whatever sauce stuck to my chilies and then a bit more from the can)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Mexican queso fresco or other cheese of choice, grated
- sour cream
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and diced (optional, I didn't because my husband hates avocados)
- warmed corn or flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 15-ounce can low-sodium black (or other color) beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Heat the oil in a stovetop-rated slow cooker liner over medium-high heat. If your slow cooker liner isn’t made from a material that can be used on a stovetop, use a very large non-stick skillet, as I did. When the oil is very hot, add the pork until the meat has browned, about 6 on each side. Turn off the heat and if you’re using a skillet, transfer the meat and its juices into the slow cooker. Add the quartered red potatoes in with the pork.
- In a large bowl, combine the onions, garlic, tomatoes, chipotles chilies, adobo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, and ½ teaspoon of salt and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and cover. Cook for 5-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
- When ready, drain the sauce from the meat and place in a bowl. Shred the pork apart with two forks, along with all of the seasonings and vegetables, taste, and season, if needed. Serve on the tortillas with the mashed black beans (recipe follows), sour cream, and cheese. Serves 6-8.
- In a small pot, heat the oil over medium. Add in the minced garlic and stir for a minute, then add the beans. Use an old-fashioned potato masher or back of a large spoon to mash the beans into a coarse puree. Remove from the heat and stir in enough water to give the beans an easily spreadable consistency, usually about 2 tablespoons. Taste and season with salt, usually about ¼ teaspoon. Spread onto warm flour or corn tortillas and top with your filling of choice.
P.S. I just want to give a big thanks to Ian Leino! I entered a drawing on his website and won this shirt for my husband! He loves it, and so do I, because, as you know if you’ve been reading my site for a while, we’re huge LOST fans. You can enter to win the shirt here.