Traditionally made with shredded chicken or beef in a spicy, smoky, and savory sauce, tinga is not dissimilar from barbecue. And, like barbecue, this dish is best served with beer. A lot of beer. In fact, I learned how to cook the chicken version of this dish while living in the Yucatan from a short, plump local woman named Lily. She drank a lot of beer when she taught me how to make it. So I know it's authentic. Logic.
You can find jackfruit at many grocery stores and Asian markets. At grocery stores, it is often sold next to the canned fruit.
Prep time: 3 cocktails (or 6 cocktails if you drink like Lily)
5 TBSP oil, divided
2 14-ounce cans jackfruit, rinsed, drained and lightly shredded
1 very large onion, peeled but not cut up
2-3 dashes of liquid smoke
1/2 tsp salt
8 cloves garlic, minced and divided
4 medium tomatoes, cored but not chopped
3/4 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried allspice berries
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
8 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
1 TBSP oregeno
1/2 cup veggie stock, store-bought or homemade
The sauce (but not the peppers) from one small 7-ounce can of chipotles in adobo sauce
1 batch homemade tortillas
Pico de gallo
Mexican pickled onions
Black beans and rice (optional)
Mexican crema or sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cut the onion in half. Slice the first half into thin "half-moon" slices. Chop the other half.
Heat 3 TBSP oil over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add shredded jackfruit. Saute jackfruit about 10-30 minutes, stirring frequently until jackfruit seems to have mostly cooked out excess water. Now add 3/4 of the chopped half of the onion and saute 7-10 more minutes. Add half the garlic and salt and saute another minute or two. If it sticks, add a bit more oil.
Now spread the jackfruit out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until it looks like browned pulled pork, flipping about halfway through with a spatula.
As your jackfruit bakes, in a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, the last little bit of chopped onion, and half of the remaining garlic over medium heat (without any oil). Cook until the tomato skin wrinkles and starts to fall off the fruit, gently stirring occasionally so all sides are wrinkled. This will take about 15 minutes. Then transfer to a food processor and buzz into a sauce.
While the tomatoes cook, combine peppercorns, allspice, cumin seeds, and cloves in a spice grinder and powder them all.
Add remaining 2 TBSP oil to a large pan and put it on medium heat. When oil shimmers, add the 'half moon' onions and saute until transparent. Add the last of the garlic and saute one more minute. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Once it begins to boil, add spice mixture from the grinder plus the bay leaves, oregano, veggie stock, and adobo. Cook until you have a marinara-like consistency, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add jackfruit mixture and cook 3 more minutes and adjust salt if needed.
Now, when your jackfruit has baked to the point that it resembles shredded chicken or beef, stir it together it with a very amount of the sauce, spread it out on the baking sheet once again, and bake for 15 more minutes.
Remove from heat and build yer' tacos with the jackfruit and remaining ingredients, adding additional sauce to the jackfruit if desired. Drink beer. Love life.