13 May 2012

Pulled Pork Tostada with Jalapeno Lime Cabbage

Lately I've been delightfully distracted by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  Not only does she work in a teensy weensy apartment kitchen, but she likes to jazz up homestyle favorites and works with ingredients common to your local market.  This woman and I are on the same page when it comes to food, and I relish in reading her little corner of the blososphere.  This post is an ode to her conc and the inspiration a like-minded lady can provide from a tiny amount of counter space.

Let's rewind to last Friday.  In an attempt clean out the freezer, I pulled out the world's largest a Sam's Club-size pork tenderloin and said to the hubs, "How about pork on Sunday?"  When the time came to cook it two days later, I was stumped.  As usual, I'd been to distracted baking our new favorite cookie and running 10K's to even think of what to do with this monstrous cut of meat.  I look in the fridge to see what else was desperate to be eaten and there, sadly forgotten in the corner of my vegetable bin, was a cabbage.  Lonely little guy.

Now I love cabbage.  And you should too.  It's delicious, nutritious and one of those veggies that tastes way better than it smells.  However, I wasn't feeling a stir fry and cabbage rolls sounded a bit too soft.  I wanted some crunch, some pop and some flavor!  So I turned to Smitten Kitchen for some inspiration, and obviously found some in her Southwestern Pulled Brisket and Cabbage & Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts.  Both were delicious looking recipes that I'd previously eyed, but here tweaked to our personal preferences.

The most obvious of the two substitutions was with the brisket.  Since I was wresting a tenderloin as big as our pups, pork was the obvious substitution.  And let me tell ya, the seasonings were spot on.  The recipe was perfect with pork, and prepared in a crock pot to boot.  Nothing beats walking in the door after work into a home deliciously scented with tantalizing tastes.

The peanut lime cabbage sounded rocking, but I knew I wanted to add a kick of jalapeno to spice things up a bit.  I just couldn't see that working with mustard....so greek yogurt entered the picture.  There is no limit to the things I will substitute plain yogurt for in cookery.  The end result was a zippy little slaw with a great combination of sour, salty and spicy.  It had a strong flavor profile on its own, but when paired with some sweet and smoky pork, it balances out beautifully.  Add some roasted peanuts for crunch, a touch of avocado for creaminess and a bit of spicy cheese...this is a knock your socks off meal.

I've made both of these recipes several times over, trying the filling both in soft corn tortillas and on crispy tostadas.  The hands-down winner of the two is the tostada.  A corn tortilla tends to make the dish a bit dry, but a tostada just provides a wonderful crunch-vessel to transport the flavors to your mouth.  The leftovers make a slam dunk salad the next day for lunch with a side of tortilla chips.  However, be forewarned that spinach does not hold up well in a salad once its been dressed.  If the texture of soft spinach is not your bag (baby), try saving a bit of the pre-spinached slaw in a container and toss together the next day right before eating.

Heck, I'll even make a salad out of this thing and nix the carbs completely.  With peanuts, cilantro, jalapeno and lime, this dish is a perfect little mix Mexi-Thai flavor that tastes great any way you eat it.

Pulled Pork Tostada with Jalapeno Lime Cabbage (6 servings)
  • 1/2 c Pulled Pork (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 c Jalapeno Lime Slaw (see recipe below)
  • 6 corn tortillas 
  • 6 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c shredded cheese (we love pepper jack)
  • 1/2 unsalted peanuts, roasted and chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, to garnish
To make tostadas, place a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to the pan and swirl around to completely coat the bottom.  Place a tortilla in the pan then immediately flip, dragging through the oil so both sides are lightly coated.  Cook the tortilla, flipping frequently, until crispy (about 8 minutes on our stove, but cook time will depend on your range).  Set aside to cool.  

To assemble the dish, place a tostada on a plate.  Top with cabbage slaw, then cover with the pulled pork.  Sprinkle with avocado, cheese, toasted peanuts and cilantro.  You can either go to town with a knife and fork or just pick it up and munch.  

Pulled Pork
  • 3 lbs pork tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 onion, halved & sliced
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c water
  • 1 14-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3-4 tbs dark corn syrup
Pull our your slow cooker and set on low.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the oil.  Generously salt and pepper all sides of your pork loin.  When the oil is hot, add the pork.  Cook about 2-3 minutes each side until the tenderloin is browned all the way around.  Remove pork to the slow cooker and reduce the temperature under your pan to medium.

Add your onions and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant.  Stir in chili powder, coriander and cumin.  Add the apple cider vinegar and stir well, scraping any drippings from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the water into the pan, then transfer the onion mixture into the crock pot.  Add the diced tomatoes, chipotle chili powder, bay leaves and corn syrup.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  The pork will be falling apart delicious.

Jalapeno Lime Cabbage
  • 6 c green cabbage, shredded
  • 6 c red cabbage, shredded*
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tbs plain greek yogurt (or vanilla if you want to add a little sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced (omit the seeds and membrane for less heat)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tbs olive or peanut oil
  • 1 tbs sugar (again, for a sweeter slaw - I left this out)
  • 4 c spinach, sliced into strips
Toss your cabbage with the salt in a large bowl.  Let the cabbage sit out at room temp for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.  This will soften the cabbage and add flavor.  Rinse well and drain, then spin in a salad spinner to remove any extra moisture.

Quickly rinse and dry the large bowl the cabbage was in to remove any extra salt.  Once dry, combine lime juice, yogurt, cumin, jalapeno and ginger and whisk together.  Slowly add your oil while you continue to whisk vigorously to create the dressing.  Add the spun cabbage and toss together to coat.  If you are serving the whole dish, toss in all the spinach.  If you are planning on serving at a later time, leave the spinach out and toss together immediately before serving.  Slaw can be made up to two days in advance.

* 6/17/13 update - I made this tonight with radicchio instead of red cabbage, which for some reason they were completely out of at my local market.  It was absolutely perfect in the dish, and left me with only half a green cabbage rather than half of both.  So consider radicchio!


  1. Made this tonight for dinner - it was wonderful and our guests loved it too! I'm looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

    1. Great idea for a company dish! And the flavors are even better the next day...you're in for a treat :)

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