I finally got around to reading my March/April issue of Cooks Illustrated on a business trip last week. (I know, I'm way behind in my reading.) One of the recipes,Crisp Pork Tostadas, really caught my imagination. Knowing that I had two pounds of pork loin in the freezer had me drooling over Cooks' monochrome design.
One of the things that attracted me to the recipe is that it appeared generally low in fat. But, of course, I couldn't just let the recipe be. Instead of the pork shoulder the recipe called for, I used loin. Shoulder is one of the perfect meats for grilling, in part, because it is laced with fat. The loin is much leaner. This meant I had to be more careful not to overcook the meat or it would dry out.
When it came time to saute the meat, I also used a little less oil, but still got nice crisp edges on the pork.
Finally, I added some extra vegetables, a bed of shredded lettuce and toppings that included diced fresh tomato.
It came out as good as I had hoped. Both Nancy and Quinn were ready for seconds. The pork was tender, but with the promised crisp edges. The flavor had the heat and smoke of the chipotle, and a wonderful sweet undertone. The lettuce and sour cream added a wonderful cooling to it all. One tostada, before toppings, worked out to 255 calories with 9 grams of fat and 2 of fiber.
Cooks Illustrated Pork Tostadas
Makes 8 servings
2 pounds pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, 1 quartered and 1 diced
5 cloves garlic, 3 peeled and smashed, 2 minced
4 sprigs thyme
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
2 bay leaves
8 6-inch corn tortillas
canola oil for toasting tortillas
4 cups shredded lettuce
In a large saucepan, add pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic, salt (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon), thyme and 6 cups of water, heat on medium-high and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that rises to the surface.
Reduce heat to medium low and partially cover. Simmer until pork is tender, 60-90 minutes.
Drain, setting aside one cup of the liquid. Using a potato masher, smash the pork until it breaks apart.
Heat oven to 450F. Lay tortillas out on two baking sheets. Brush them lightly with canola oil on on both sides and lightly salt. Top with upside-down cooling racks to keep them flat and bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. You will want to swap the position of the baking sheets half-way through.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet (I like cast iron for this). Add pork, diced onion and oregano and cook until browned with crisp edges, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook until it becomes fragrant, less than a minute.
Add tomatoes, chipotle powder, reserved liquid and bay leaves. Stir in and continue to cook until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated.
Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup lettuce and 1/8 of the pork mixture. I topped ours with a tablespoon of light sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes and cilantro.