Recipe from Just Tacos by Shelley Wiseman (Taunton Press, 2011)Tacos de tinga de carne
David Ortega, a chef and caterer in Mexico City, gives cooking classes to a series of regular devotees. I joined his class the night he was making these delicious tacos. David doesn't like to waste anything so he used the ends and skins of the onion to flavor the cooking liquid, then turned the cooking liquid into a delicious consommé. Brushing the tortillas with a little oil (they should not end up greasy but softer) helps them absorb the sauce from the meat without breaking.
Makes 5 cups (15 to 20 tacos; serves 5 to 6)
For the meat
- 1 pound flank steak or brisket, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 quarts water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Peelings and ends from two large white onions (see sauce)
- 6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
For the sauce
- 2 large onions, peeled and tops and bottoms trimmed, then thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided; more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 pounds tomatoes, quartered
- 2 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles en adobo
- 1 cup water
- 6 bay leaves
For the tortillas
- Corn tortillas
- About 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Simple or Spicy Refried Beans
Cook the MeatPut the meat in a large pot with the water and salt and bring to a simmer, skimming off the fat as it rises to the surface.
Meanwhile, heat a dry, flat griddle or large, heavy skillet and toast the peelings and ends of the onions and the unpeeled garlic cloves until everything is blackened in patches and the garlic is slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables (with peelings) to the pot with the meat. Simmer, partially covered, until the meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Alternatively, cook the meat in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes.)
Make the sauce while the meat is cooking.
Cook the onion in the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar, stirring, until golden brown and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
Blend the tomatoes, chipotle chiles, water, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into the pot with the onion, discard any solids left in the strainer, and boil the sauce until it has thickened to a velvety texture and is a deep red color, 30 to 45 minutes.
Shred the meat and finish the dish
When the meat is tender, transfer the pieces to a cutting board and finely shred the meat using two forks.
Add the meat to the sauce along with the bay leaves and enough broth from the pot to moisten the meat, 1 to 2 cups. Simmer the meat in the sauce, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover the meat and season with more salt to taste. Continue to simmer, if necessary, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the meat. Remove the bay leaves.
Make the tacos
Heat a flat griddle or large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Lightly brush one side of the tortillas with oil, stacking them as oiled (which will lightly oil the second side). Heat the tortillas, a few at a time depending on the size of your pan, and turning them as they soften, until hot, 1 to 2 minutes total; stack on a plate as heated. Spread a spoonful of refried beans on a tortilla, then top with some of the meat and guacamole. Serve the Fiery Serrano-Lime Salsa on the side. Continue to make tacos in the same manner.
Note: The tinga will keep chilled for 5 days or frozen for 1 month.
Accompaniments: Fiery Serrano-Lime Salsa
Fiery Serrano-Lime Salsa
Salsa de chile serrano con limón
This is chef Ortega's favorite spicy serrano salsa. He serves it to spice up his tacos with Shredded Meat in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce.
- Makes about 2/3 cup
- 6 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Heat a dry, flat griddle or a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot and roast the chiles, turning them as they brown and blister until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Put them in a tightly sealed plastic bag for 15 minutes to help loosen the skins.
Peel the chiles with a paring knife.
Put the chiles in a blender with the limejuice and salt and blend until smooth. Season with more salt to taste to balance the acidity of the limejuice.
Note: The salsa keeps chilled for 3 days.
Spicy Refried Bean Tacos
Tacos de frijoles refritos picantes
Makes 1 1/2 cups (4 to 6 tacos; serves 2 to 3)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto or black beans, including liquid, or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans in their liquid
- 1/2 cup Fresh Tomato Salsa
- 1 minced chipotle en adobo, including some liquid
- 1 tablespoon tequila
These refried beans are addictive, so feel free to double the recipe (double everything except the oil, which can stay the same). This yield is equivalent to one 15-ounce can or the same amount of freshly cooked beans. Although the beans make delicious tacos on their own, they also are a great addition to beef or breakfast tacos.
Heat the oil in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat, then add the beans and their liquid. Mash the beans with a potato or bean masher as they cook until their liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa, the chipotle, and the tequila and cook, stirring or mashing until the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and the mixture is a fairly smooth mash, about 5 minutes.
Make tacos with accompaniments.
Accompaniments: Warm tortillas, slices of avocado, more Fresh Tomato Salsa or Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa, crumbled queso fresco