This fiery version of Chicken Tinga is looking for a permanent home, preferably somewhere in your kitchen!
In exchange, it’ll provide all sorts of impromptu meals loaded with that savory Tinga flavor — your job is to eat them.
If you’ve ever come across a Tinga recipe there’s a good chance it relied on tomatoes as the base. While this will produce a sauce that ain’t so bad the first few times you have it, I think it whiffs on the true potential of the dish.
Pairing the tomatoes with a few of these beauties….
…gives the sauce a sharp tartness that makes the Tinga come alive!
I should also mention that this Tinga version has some real heat. You can always cut the chipotle amount in half for a milder batch.
First things first, get those tomatoes and tomatillos roasting: 2 plum tomatoes and 5-6 tomatillos will do the job.
Yes, you can char them in a skillet or put them underneath the broiler, but I’m still in the habit of tossing them in a 400F oven. Keep an eye on them as the tomatillos typically don’t need as long as the tomatoes to roast.
If the tomatillos start to wither away you can take them out and let the tomatoes continue to roast, but to be honest sometimes I just let everything roast away until I need them. (Note: I’m in the habit of cutting out the stems before roasting, knowing that any juices leftover in the roasting pan will be added to the blender.)
Next up is the chicken, You could easily use shredded Rotisserie chicken, but I typically poach chicken breasts and then shred it using two forks. Simply cover two chicken breasts with cold tap water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
You can also add a bit of flavoring to the poaching water if you want — for this batch I added salt, pepper, onion, and cilantro.
Meanwhile, saute 1/2 onion and 4 whole garlic cloves in some oil over medium heat.
Cook until the onion is just starting to turn brown, approximately 5-8 minutes, and then add to a blender along with the roasted tomatoes and tomatillos. We’ll also add 5 chipotles in adobo. Yes, five!
I typically scrape out the seeds of the chipotles.
Give it a whirl but I tend to keep this sauce a bit chunky, pulse blending to combine it.
If you give it a taste at this point it’s going to have some real heat, so consider yourself warned! I usually can’t resist and I’m always amazed at how much flavor it already has despite using just five ingredients so far.
Heat a dollop of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sauce from the blender.
We’ll also add:
2 tablespoons adobo sauce
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
dash of cumin (optional)
Let this simmer for a few minutes and then add the shredded chicken.
Combine well and then congratulate yourself for whipping up a batch of authentic Tinga. Easy right?
Let this simmer until everything is at a uniform temperature. Definitely take another taste for salt level — I added another generous pinch to this batch.
And if you are one of the lucky ones who sees five chipotles in a recipe and thinks “Only five?” then you can always add some more adobo sauce at this point to amp it up even more.
If all went according to plan you’ve got some lip-smacking Chicken Tinga on your hands — good enough to eat straight from the pan.
As mentioned, I’ve been keeping some of this in the fridge for a week’s worth of no-thinking-involved meals.
Although it’s less common than traditional taco combos, a beans-cheese-meat taco is a combo worth adding to your arsenal.
It works great on tostada shells, but really crispy tortillas will work too, so that’s what we’re making here. Simply add a thin layer of beans and cheese to a corn tortilla in a skillet or comal.
Cook over medium heat until the cheese is melted and there are brown spots forming on the bottom of the tortillas.
Add some piping hot Tinga and dinner is served!
These are warm, goopy tacos that don’t need much else, but of course a final burst of acidity will make them pop even more. A squeeze of lime does the job quite well.
(We’re using the Black Bean Puree that you’re familiar with from the Sides Module. I’ll put instructions for this puree in the recipe box below.)
The other combo to keep in mind is Tinga Tacos served with avocado bits, finely diced raw onion, and some Cotija cheese.
This is a more traditional way of serving Tinga and it’s a great introduction to the ultra-satisfying Tinga flavor.
However you serve it up, Tinga is a great flavor to add to your arsenal. I’ll sometimes even make quesadillas using it, or burritos!
The recipe box is below if you want to make it, and since this is the final recipe in the Module click ‘Tacos! — Quiz!’ in the table down below to test your taco knowledge!
Spicy Chicken Tinga
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 5-6 tomatillos
- 1/2 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 5 chipotles in adobo
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- dash of cumin (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 8-10 corn tortillas
- sliced Jack cheese (approx. 1 cup)
- lime slices
- olive oil
For the Black Bean Puree:
- 1 can black beans
- 1/2 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup water (or stock)
- Give the tomatoes and tomatillos a good rinse. Roast them in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on the tomatillos -- if they start to wither you can pull them out and let the tomatoes keep roasting.
- If you're cooking the chicken, add 2 chicken breasts to a saucepan and cover with cold tap water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You can optionally add some flavoring to the water -- for this batch I added salt, pepper, onion and cilantro. Once cooked, set the chicken breasts aside to cool and then use two forks to shred them.
- If you're making the beans, start by cooking 1/2 onion and 2 garlic cloves in a dollop of oil over medium heat. Once the onion is starting to brown, approximately 5-8 minutes, add 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), 2 chipotles in adobo, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 1/2 cup water (or stock). Let simmer for a few minutes until heated through and then add everything to a blender, combining well. Take a final taste for seasoning and heat.
- For the Tinga, start by cooking 1/2 onion and 4 whole, peeled garlic cloves in a dollop of oil over medium heat. Cook until the onion is just starting to brown, approx. 5-8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to a blender along with the roasted tomatoes and tomatillos, and 5 chipotles in adobo. Combine well.
- Heat a dollop of oil over medium heat. Add the sauce from the blender along with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, a dash of cumin (optional), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Let simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken to the Tinga sauce, combining well. Let simmer until everything is at a uniform temperature. Take a final taste for seasoning -- I added another generous pinch of salt to this batch.
- Add a layer of the bean puree and cheese to some corn tortillas. Cook in a skillet or comal over medium heat until crispy. Top with Chicken Tinga and serve immediately. Final garnishes can include a squeeze of lime, hot sauce, or pickled onions. Alternatively, you can serve the Tinga on crispy corn tortillas (or tostadas) with avocado bits, raw onion, and Cotija cheese.