Braised Pork Cheek Tostada Stacks with Chipotle Sour Cream and Pineapple-Mango Salsa
I will never forget the look on Olivia’s and Hetal’s faces when they first saw the animal heads revealed as part of one of our “Mystery Box Challenges.” I can understand how difficult that must have been for them, coming from backgrounds that were so different from mine. I grew up on a ranch, where we focused on rustic cooking using every part of the animal with nothing going to waste. In a funny way, I was happy to see a pig’s head under that box.
These tostadas can really be made with an equal weight of any non-lean cut of pork meat, but I assure you, if you have never had pork cheek, there is never a time like ahorita (now)!
Makes 4 tostada stacks
For the braised pork cheeks:
6 pork cheeks (about 4 ounces/55 g each), trimmed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 yellow onion, cut in half
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons salt
12 (6-inch/15-cm) corn tortillas, homemade (page 000) or store-bought
Canola oil for frying
For the chipotle sour cream:
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
For the pineapple-mango salsa:
1 cup (165 g) diced pineapple
1 cup (165 g) diced mango
1 jalapeño, minced
¼ cup (30 g) diced white onion
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
For the red cabbage slaw:
2 cups (190 g) shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
To make the pork cheeks: Combine the pork cheeks, garlic, onion, oregano, and salt in a pressure cooker. Pour in enough water to make the pork cheeks float, place the pot over high heat, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, secure the lid according to the manufacturer’s instructions, bring it to high pressure, and cook for 45 minutes.
To make the salsa: In a medium bowl, toss together the pineapple, mango, jalapeño, onion, lemon and lime juices, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a cool spot.
To finish the pork cheeks: Remove the pot from the heat and release the pressure from the pressure cooker. Remove the meat from the braising liquid, reserving the liquid. Using the tines of two forks, finely shred the meat. Place the shredded meat in a medium saucepan and add just enough braising liquid to top off the meat. Keep it warm over low heat.
To fry the tortillas: In a deep fryer or skillet, heat at least 4 inches (10 cm) of oil to 375°F (190°C).
Use a 3-inch (7.5-cm) ring cutter, cut out 12 corn tortilla discs. Drop the tortillas into the oil one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the fryer, and fry until crisp. Remove from the oil using tongs and place them on a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Immediately season with salt.
To make the slaw: You must wait until just before you are ready to serve your stack to prepare your slaw, as you don’t want it to go soft. In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with the lemon and lime juices and season with salt and pepper.
Now get ready to stack: Begin by placing a bed of slaw at the bottom of each of four plates to anchor the tostada. Add a fried tortilla and top it with some cheek meat. Squeeze on some chipotle sour cream and spoon a bit of slaw and top it off with some salsa. Add a second fried tortilla and repeat to make two layers. Top with a final tostada, finish with some salsa, and garnish with cilantro sprigs or even a few Crispy Pigs’ Ears strips like I did on the show!