In the United States, when we think about a basic, well-balanced meal, it typically includes a protein, vegetable and starch. However, if you look at other cultures around the world, many feature a staple dish that highlights rice—whether it’s arroz con pollo in Latin America, biryani in India or paella in Spain. I didn’t know much about these dishes before I got the cookbook One Pan Wonders, published, of course, by America’s Test Kitchen. Because it is filled with recipes made with just one pan, ranging from the skillet to the slow cooker to the Dutch oven and sheet pan, the editors included versions of many of these delicious rice-based dishes from around the world. One such dish that we’ve enjoyed is the pork tinga with rice.
Pork tinga is a rich, spicy and heartwarming dish from Mexico, which is also commonly served shredded on tostadas or tacos. This version started on the stovetop, putting a quick brown on the pork.
Next is the flavor-building step, which involved onions, spices like oregano and thyme, chipotle chilis in adobo, tomato sauce and broth. Then the pork went back in and the whole thing went in the oven until the pork was cooked through. This is what it looked like going in:
And then coming out of the oven, all steamy and fragrant:
The last step is adding rice, which I want to talk about for a second. Prior to getting this cookbook, most of my experiences with rice were with the instant kind—the kind that takes 5 or 10 minutes to make and might come out a little wet or a little chewy if you’re too impatient to even wait that long. Then I started cooking my way through this book, which uses rices like basmati, long grain and short grain white and brown rices. Though they take longer to cook, these recipes have taught me how hearty and satisfying rice can be, and these days I try to use these different rices as much as possible. And since I’m not coming home from work at 6:30 then trying to prepare dinner, I’ve thankfully been able to do that most of the time.
But back to the recipe. Rice goes in and the pot goes back in the oven for the rice to cook. I also added frozen peas at this stage—I’m not sure if that’s a cultural clash, but I love peas and the pops of sweetness that they add to the dish. Then when all the liquid is absorbed, I added sliced scallions and lime juice and plated it up.
The tender, juicy pork and rich, spicy rice were perfectly balanced with the sweet peas and freshness of the scallions. Another bonus, like many recipes in this book, was that the recipe served 4 to 6 people, so we ate this dish the following night as well. The rice was so plump and moist that we just stuck it in the microwave by the bowl and it didn’t dry out at all. And last but certainly not least, it meant sampling and experimenting with a dish from a different culture, which is half the fun of cooking!