The literal translation for Tinga de Pollo is "scolding of the chicken" or the "quarrel of the chicken". Of course, that explains everything doesn't it. Literal translations are a very interesting part of understanding another language, that is, how a culture words something and their intended meaning. It does make sense though when you look up the culinary meaning of Tinga. Tinga is a Mexican culinary term that implies torn or pieces of meat. In the case of Tinga de Pollo, it is shredded chicken stewed in a tomato based, somewhat spicy sauce. This is a very common technique for preparing meats for chalupas, tacos, enchiladas and other Mexican dishes.
Here is a recipe I like a lot. Some like it better with pork or Tinga de Poblano but I like chicken version. This recipe is very close to the pork versions and if you are into chorizo, add some. A lot of the recipes add from 1/4 to 1/2 pound and saute it with the onions. In my kitchen, there are no set rules except where baking is concerned. I very rarely follow a recipe to the letter and everyone has different tastes. In my family of four, I could make four different variations of this dish and it is possible, each dish would be someone's favorite. That is just too much work so I will stick to my favorite, Tinga de Pollo.
First the chicken.
1, The easiest route is to buy a rotisserie chicken that weighs about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds and shred it.
2. The easy route is to get a package of boneless chicken thighs (usually this is 4 to 6 thighs) and two chicken breasts. You can get skinless, boneless chicken if you want but the chicken on the bone will stay much moister as you cook it.
For this method, place the chicken into a 5 qt saucepan and cover it with water. Add the water until it covers the chicken and chicken has freedom of movement. Add 1/2 the onion cut in half (a white onion is in the authentic Mexican style, but any onion will do), 3 or 4 whole peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a whole bay leaf and a slightly smashed garlic clove. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes until just done (or very slightly under done). Cool and shred which you can do with your fingers or two forks.
3. The not so easy (but not that difficult either) and more time consuming route is to buy a 4 lb. chicken and make some delicious broth along with the meat I needed for the recipe.
For this method, place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Place in a whole onion that has been quartered, 4 or 5 whole peppercorns, 3/4 teaspoons salt, a whole bay leaf, a large slightly smashed garlic clove. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and shred. (Note on the broth: I tossed the bones back into the broth an simmered for about 30 more minutes for an even richer broth. Sometimes I can't control myself,)
Yes this is really the way I do things. Everyone has an involvement level or whether we feel like doing this or not level and lets face it we are all like that. And some days we are busy and just need to get things done. A delicious, healthy dinner is a great way to end the day instead of in front of a pizza box or something like that.
Note on #2 and #3: You can overcook chicken this way and it will be dry and more difficult to shred. If it is slightly undercooked then it will finish cooking when you add it to the Tinga ingredients.
Now for the Tinga. I want to get funny here, but I will refrain.
In a blender place 1/2 can of chipotle peppers, rough chopped, along with half the sauce (3 to 4 peppers), two coarsely chopped garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican oregano, 5 Roma tomatoes or a 14.5 ounce can of whole tomatoes with only half the liquid added and 1 cup of loosely packed cilantro. Blend all ingredients and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add 1/2 of chopped white onion. Saute until just translucent. Add the sauce from the blender and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. At the end of cooking, add 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and stir it in.
So now I am armed with a chalupa chip, now I have to dress it. Here is the order: chalupa chip, refried beans, chicken tinga, crumbled queso blanco cheese, avocado slices, chopped lettuce and ta-dah!
tomatillo avocado salsa or a plain salsa verde. Any salsa that you like will do. I think you will enjoy this recipe. My daughter certainly enjoyed them. I probably shouldn't show this picture. . .
I might be in trouble.
Then again, maybe she won't see it.
3 1/2 to 4 lbs. cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed or chopped roughly
1/4 teaspoon of cloves
1/2 teaspoon of mexican oregano
5 roma tomatoes, or 1 can of whole tomatoes discard about half of the juice
1 cup cilantro, loosely packed
1/2 cup chopped cilanto
In a blender, put in garlic, cloves, oregano, tomatoes, 1 cup of cilantro and blend. Set aside.
Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large saute pan and saute the onions until they are just translucent. Add the sauce from the blender and simmer for a 2 or 3 minutes and then add the shredded chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes. After taking the chicken off the heat add the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and stir.
6 to 8 4-inch tostados
1 can of refried beans, black or pinto
1 cup shredded queso blanco, cotija cheese or monterey jack cheese
1 avocado, sliced
chopped lettuce or cabbage
Assemble the chalupas in the order listed starting with the tostado and enjoy.