Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chicken Tinga – Torn Between Two Lovers

Whenever I’m ordering something with chicken at a taqueria, I’m always presented with the same three choices. The grilled chicken, the green chicken, which is cooked in a tomatillo sauce, and the red chicken, also know as chicken tinga.

I usually forgo the grilled option, since whatever I’m ordering almost always benefits from sauce; which leaves me with the nearly impossible decision of choosing between the red and the green. I love both, so I’m always torn. By the way, in Mexican culinary lingo, tinga means, “torn.”

Anyway, now that the title makes sense, I can finish this post up by reiterating how great this came out. There are faster methods to make this, but taking the extra time to reduce the cooking liquid, as well as possibly the sauce, really pays off in the end.

The real challenge here is deciding how to use it. You can’t go wrong with tacos, but my favorite delivery system is tostados. Fry up a corn or flour tortilla nice and crisp; top with tinga, and garnish with the usual suspects. It doesn’t get any better than that…unless the tortilla is shaped into a bowl, which I’ll show you how to do quickly, and mess-free, in the next video. Until then, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 large portions:
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 cloves peeled whole garlic cloves
1 large yellow onion, halved
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can (7-oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 can (28-oz) peeled plum tomatoes (I recommend using San Marzano) or 3 1/2 cups of any fresh or canned tomato product
2 tablespoons olive oil or reserved chicken fat
1 large onion, diced
Cotija cheese and cilantro to garnish

40 comments:

DrWest said...

Dear Chef John,

some of us are not Breast Lunatics (as far as chicken is concerned) because we want to be, but because we have to be. Supermarkets here in Germany do not offer boneless, skinless chicken thighs (which, since I started watching your videos, is a pity).

Otherwise, this recipe looks great again (unfortunately, our supermarkets don't feature Chipotle Chilies nor San Marzano tomatoes, either...).

Keep up the good work! :)

Alex Weber said...

Simultaneously drooling all over my keyboard and laughing to tears. "What the wildlings might call a taco salad"? Cause they're north of the wall, right? You're the best, Chef John

Sally said...

Chef, I just went to Allrecipes to print this recipe and it isn't up yet. Do you know about how long it takes for them to publish your recipes?

Nahtoderfahrungen mit Suicidal Intentions said...

Hey Chef John,
canned Chipotle Chiles are hard to come by where I live, so any idea what I should use to substitute them (or even replicate that sauce?)

shesh said...

Written directions?

jan otaegui said...

What do you do with the garlic cloves add to the sauce or discard.

SY said...

I made this substituting tofu for chicken, shallots for garlic, potato for onion, parsley for oregano, ketchup for tomatoes, and pickles for chipotle. It wasn't very good, it didn't taste the slightest bit Mexican, this is an awful recipe.

Sally said...

shesh - Allrecipes publishes a printed version of all of Chef John's recipes. The link is up there, the first one under his Food Friends.

PhillyBear said...

man, does that look good! Also, it's almost the end of the work day and I am very hungry. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment!

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

SY: What a coincidence. I made the same substitutions and it came out great.

Mark said...

DrWest, do your stores sell chicken thighs with bone and skin? If so, I would just poach those, and separate the meat when they're done. The resulting stock might even taste better due to the bones. As for San Marzano tomatoes, you are waaaay closer to Italy than we are, yet most larger supermarkets here now stock them. They are also available at smaller "foodie" stores, and of course from Italian grocers. Perhaps there is not enough demand where you live?

Stan Ely said...

@SY I love you.

Amazon is your friend people. There is no substitute for Chipotle.

Stan Ely said...

@SY I love you.

Unknown said...

Forget the taco bowls, give us the Green option recipe as well! No need to be torn if we can unite in harmony with BOTH colors of the tinga rainbow!

Philipp Beckmann said...

For the chipotles i'll use these: http://www.ebay.de/itm/Chipotles-in-Adobo-La-Costena-Mexiko-220g-/152124864934

HEJ_19 said...

Hi Chef John, I hope you notice my comment.
I know this may sound a lot, but I would be so happy if you can make a video recipe for people who have IBD (inflammatory bowl disease/ Crohn disease)
There's nothing much I can eat right now, but I want to eat delicious food that won't cause me flare.
I know I'm asking for a lot, but I would really be so happy ��

Unknown said...

Chef, please host a contest only winnable by me. Let the prize be a weekend food tour of SF with you.
I'm happy to pay for my travel and your food. PLEASE! :)

-Travis from KC

Donal and Eileen Mooney said...

Hay SY,
I am still laughing, would love to see your recipe for a slice of bread and butter...........

Reserve4Todd said...

I made this tonight with about half of the chipotles (low tolerance for heat in this house) and it was fantastic. I served the chicken tinga as tacos with corn tortillas, and it may have been the best Mexican meal that I've ever made. I recommend a little fresh lime to go with it. Really superb, will definitely make again and again.

halpwr said...

Is it possible to make this and the broth at the same time to save steps?

Spinni said...

@DrWest: Buy whole chicken legs (Schlegel), skin them, cut them in half and cook with the bone in. You can remove the meat easily from the bone after cooking. I asked my "chicken dealer" on the farmers market why no one sells chicken thighs in Germany and they said it is just not a traditional cut but if I ordered it in advance they would get it for me. Although, Unterschenkel (drum sticks?) are sometimes sold because people asked for them. I think it is only a matter of time until we get chicken thighs, probably with bone and skin.

Frank Rizo said...

It's "tostadas," chef, not "tostados,"tortillas being a feminine noun.
Thanks for this delicious recipe. I have been eating tostadas with ground meat (picadillo) for weeks and was looking for something with chicken. This is it.
Love your recipes.

Jim Phillips said...

@SY I agree YOUR recipe sounds just awful. Try using the original one next time and your dish just might come out tasting Mexican. :-)

Russell Troxler said...

I made this Thursday night, outstanding. The next time I make it I want to try and add oven roasted fresh tomatoes, if I plan enough ahead I might roast some red bell peppers the next time I BBQ to add as well. Thanks for the inspiration Chef John.

Joseph Hammond said...

Good shit chef!

Chrissy says she'd make it again in a hot second.

Frank Lilley said...

Every bit as good as promised!! Just a little too hot for me so next time I'll use 1/2 can of the chilies! But this is an awesome disk!! Thank you!!

Caitlin Jo Ramsey said...

I prepared the recipe true to the video and loved it. My husband and I like it for breakfast with a fried egg on top and a salad or French bread on the side. French bread is great for dipping in the tasty red sauce.

Robert Dotson said...

You should do a video on how to make chipotle in adobo. The canned stuff doesn't taste as good as fresh homemade. And it's fairly simple and easy to store.

Sukkie Terrazas said...

I personally added juice of a large lime n it was awesome

William DiStefano said...

Loving both of them
Is breaking all the rules.

Peggy Ward said...

Made this recipe 2 days ago. Had my doubts about using an entire can of chipotles, seeds and all, but have lots of faith in CJ. Wow! It was fantastic! I also made the tortilla bowls. The next day it was even better, like any stew. Only thing I did differently was double the onion and garlic amounts. Also scored the chicken fat extra credit. Will make this again and again! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Another winner. Thank you.

J Fields said...

Chef John, really looking forward to making this; is there anyway I can print this with directions? Thank you so much for all the incredible recipes! Jim

Unknown said...

Made this last weekend just a couple of days after you posted the tostada shell recipe. I can confirm that this makes amazing tacos, quesadillas, and taco salads.

However I had this crazy idea for the next time I make it, Mexican Jambalaya! It would be made basically the same way except at the point you are sauteeing the onions, also add green peppers, and at the point you mix in the tomato/chipotle sauce also add black beans, corn, and maybe 3/4 cup uncooked rice.

Chao said...

Really liked this recipe and made it twice now (it's a great one to cook for the week).

Only change I made first time round was using bone-in, skin-on thighs. I can't see it doing anything other than adding more flavour and after poaching the meat comes off very easily.

Second time around I made a few other alterations, it may well be less authentic but came out quite well and I think shows that it's a solid base to be able to experiment with somewhat.

I added a carrot and some red/orange peppers in with the onion for the boiling and blending into the sauce, added a bit of sweetness and some extra body to the final dish. I also added in some diced chorizo, these boiled to disperse the flavour but after straining were fried up along with the onions along with some extra peppers.

I also blitzed in a small amount of xanthan gum to help thicken the sauce and help mix in some of the rendered fat but that's entirely optional, however I find is particularly effective when reheating in microwaves at work as it helps the sauce stay together rather than going watery.

Alex Weber said...

Was thinking too much about the poor quality of chicken here in China (can get nice whole birds, but just buying legs I shudder to think how much hormones are in there) when I had a crazy idea -- make the tinga sauce and poach some nice white fish in the there! Came out fabulous.

one_alone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Great recipe! One of my favorite comfort foods. Mi abuelita always told me to include 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks when boiling the chicken, I think it really makes a difference!

Wade Taylor said...

For corn tortilla bowls brush with oil then microwave over ramekin for 15 seconds, then bake.

Donald said...

I made this the other day and it come out very sour tasting not sure what I did wrong.