One of the things that make Tinga Tacos such an exciting Mexican dish is the amazing versatility of the recipe. Tinga Tacos can be braised in the oven, sure. It can also be made in a slow cooker. As a matter of fact… you can even make this recipe in its entirety right on top of the stove. Why stop now? Tinga Tacos in a casserole dish is also possible. Now how is that for a versatile dish? In this exciting version, we find Tinga Tacos in an easy to make recipe calling for but a few wonderful ingredients. It is one of the easiest methods for this smoky Mexican delight that we know you are going to love. So, head on over to your organic farmers market and get the following items. Here is what you need.
photo by Paul Narvaez @ Flickr
- Measure out one-quarter cup (1/4) of real virgin olive oil… plus three (3) more tablespoons, kept separately.
- You will need approximately two and one half pounds (2–1/2) of boneless, trimmed chicken thighs.
- Make sure you have plenty of black pepper, freshly ground, and some sea salt as well.
- Slice yourself a (1) large onion. (Or two (2) medium sized onions) Make the slices paper thin.
- Mince Three (3) very large cloves of garlic.
- Have a (28) twenty eight ounce can of diced tomatoes opened and ready to go. (Do not drain)
- Coarsely chop two (2) canned chipotles’ (in adobo sauce)
- Pour up one (1) cup of chicken broth
- Prepare twenty-four (24) corn tortillas (Wrap in aluminum foil)
- Crumble up two (2) ounces of Cotija cheese (Nice and crumbly)
- Gather a nice sized handful of sliced scallions and chopped cilantro (Note: Do not slice the cilantro and/or chop the scallions)
- Throw in Five (5) cups of love… straight from the garden in your heart.
Tools and Supplies
- A large non-stick skillet
- Container in which to catch hot drippings
- Measuring utensils (With a tablespoon)
- Food Processor
- Aluminum Foil
- A nine by thirteen inch (9 x 13 inch) baking pan
- A wooden spoon (For stirrin’ and tastin’)
Remember those three tablespoons of olive oil we separated? Add those to your skillet and heat it up. Lay those chicken thighs out and salt and pepper them thoroughly on one side, and then flip them over and cover them with a nice layer of more salt and pepper, being very thorough indeed. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook it over a medium high heat until browned on both sides.
When good and browned, about 12 minutes turning once, place chicken in the baking pan, pouring the drippings off.
Do not wash that skillet pan just yet. After you pour the fat out of it, toss it back on the stove over a medium high heat and pour in the last of the olive oil and your thinly sliced onions. Cook them for about 5 minutes to brown them and get them nice and soft and then add the garlic. You are cooking the garlic to release the fragrance, which only takes about 2 minutes. Do not forget to stir those onions on occasion to prevent over browning.
Now that the onions are done and the entire house smell like an Italian kitchen, add that can of tomatoes, the chicken broth and the chipotle. Crank up the heat and bring this entire mixture to a nice boil while stirring. Remember, if it is not roiling while stirring… it is not at the true boiling point. Ease the heat back to a modest simmer, stirring occasionally, for a good twenty minutes. (Ten minutes in, preheat the oven to 350 degrees) The sauce will thicken and become reduced a bit when it is right and ready. Remove from heat.
Now we get to play with the cool toys. Plug in that food processor and pour the sauce into it. In order to build the anticipation, we will allow it to cool there for 15 minutes. (A watched food processor never cools) While it may seem like forever, once the 15 minutes passes, puree the sauce until it is nice and consistently smooth. Dip your favorite wooden spoon in and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour your smooth sauce over the chicken in the baking pan carefully covering all chicken surface areas. Bake at 350 for fifty (50) minutes uncovered. It is important to place the pan directly in the center of the center rack for even cooking. The sauce will brown around the edge of your pan and the tender, juicy chicken pieces should be cooked through when done. Clear a small spot on one piece and stick with fork to ensure juices run clear.
Now is the perfect time to place those wrapped tortillas into the oven to warm them up.
Take the pan out of the oven and remove the meat leaving the sauce in the pan. Shred the chicken, making sure to discard bones and any gristle you find. Mix the shredded chicken into the sauce making sure to obtain complete saturation. Each tortilla should hold three tablespoons of chicken and sauce. Dribble the crumbled cheese over the tortilla and garnish with the sliced scallions and chopped cilantro. Take a few snapshots of this beautiful masterpiece of a meal and then dig in. You’ve earned it.