Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tinga de Pollo or Chicken Tinga

Tinga de Pollo or Chicken Tinga is a recipe for stewed chicken that is primarily used for chalupas, but is also delicious in tacos, salads, enchiladas or stuffing chiles.  All I can say is that however you choose to use it, it makes for a wonderfully tasty dish.  Like I have said before, I like versatility and this simple recipe has it - especially if you like Mexican food and I do.  Don't be deterred by the chipotle chiles because after cooking the heat is milder than you would think and the flavor is amazing.  I love some heat so I tend toward spicy and have added extra chipotle or cayenne to take it up a notch.

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.
I just happen to have some corn tortillas left over from a previous meal.  Yeah! So, while the chicken tinga was stewing, I made tostados for chalupas.  I put about an inch of canola oil in a saute pan and heated it until it would sizzle when I put an edge of a tortilla in the oil.  Then I started frying them.
They only take about 1/2 a minute to a minute per side and I keep flipping them until they are lightly browned and crispy. When you take them out of the pan, try to drain as much oil off as you can.  I put them on a wire rack on a sheet pan to drain.  I do this instead of paper towels because the oil will drain off instead of into the paper towels.  I think my fried things are less greasy and stay crispy longer.  I give them a sprinkling of salt while they are still warm so the salt will stick.  Salt of choice here - flaked kosher salt.
Don't mind that cluttered kitchen, it is way worse that it looks.  I am going to work on that.  My gift to myself.

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!
Oh, I almost forgot the sun gold cherry tomatoes in my garden that are simply delicious.
They make the chalupa look better and taste better.  If you like sour cream, go for it.  Our family likes  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.

Chicken Tinga

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
1 lime

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. 

For Chalupas:
     6 to 8 4-inch tostados
     1 can of refried beans, black or pinto
     Chicken Tinga
     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.

Print Recipe


  1. I have been meaning to make these for forever, and just now finally did! They were great! Of course, while it would have been amazing, I just couldn't bring myself to fry the corn tortillas, so we warmed them up wonderful. Loved all of the flavors together! Thanks.

  2. That is awesome. The fried tortilla (like a chalupa) is a classic way to serve them, but like you, I really love it "taco" style. Just as good. A little healthier and a bit easier. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...