The ingredient list is short, so it's easy to make -- just saute some chicken pieces, onion and garlic, add dried oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Then simmer it all with canned tomato sauce and chipotle peppers. You do have to shred the cooked chicken at the end, but it's now tender and simple to separate.
This braised poultry dish is perfect on a warm corn tortilla or wrapped in a flour tortilla, with a little fresh chopped onion, cilantro, a slice of avocado, and topped with some shredded or crumbled cheese.
My Chicken Tinga recipe makes enough to feed the whole family, and more. It's easy to keep warm on the stove top for a taco party, too. Just lay out a tray of toppings and go to town chowing-down on all the deliciousness. Let your guest do the work, I mean, have all the fun, building their own tacos.
This Mexican-style stew is even better the next day, when all the spicy flavors have merged and mellowed - so, you can do all the cooking ahead of time. Chicken Tinga freezes well to pack it later for a few work lunches.
For my Chicken Tinga recipe I use a cheap 7.5 ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. A warning though, this small can packs a lot of spicy heat, just dip your finger in the sauce and taste it for yourself. But, it's the kind of heat that lessens once you've eaten a couple of Chicken Tinga tacos and downed a frosty, salt-rimmed margarita.
Notice it's spelled "Chilpotle" on the can, but "chipotle" is commonly used.
You can cool down the heat by using half the sauce and chili peppers. And, if you think that's still too spicy, then leave out the can of chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, and use a small (14.5 ounce) can of plain enchilada or red chile sauce (similar flavors, with very little heat.) And go to the Hindsight section at the end of this post for all my mild versions.
Interestingly, most recipes I explored online call for boiling chicken breast separately, then adding it to the tomato/chipotle sauce. Why not just add the raw chicken to the sauce and cook it; that way you retain the savory chicken stock. And, if you brown the chicken skin - why that's double the flavor. Well, that's the way I'm doing it. Just keeping it simply scrumptious.
You can make this recipe with more expensive white meat or use cheaper dark meat. Remove the skin if you want a low calorie stew.
Most poultry eaters fall into two camps, dark meat or white meat lovers. I like dark meat because there is more texture and taste variety. Leg meat has a flavorful knob of meat while thigh meat is a big juicy slab. And it's hard to overcook - while white meat is easy to dry out (except in this stew.) Although, I see why white meat is usually preferred for it's consistent texture and being lower in fat. Make my recipe with white or dark meat. Hey, go ahead and use both - can't we all get along?
So gather your family or favorite friends, and get to cooking my Mexican recipe of Chicken Tinga - it's always a fiesta in The 99 Cent Chef's cocina (kitchen.)
Chicken Tinga - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 4 minutes, 23 seconds.
My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.
Ingredients (enough for a party, at least 20-30 small tacos, or about 6 bowls as stew)
- 2-3 chicken leg quarters - That's 4-6 pieces of dark meat. You can use breast white meat, about 2-3 half breasts.
- 7.5 ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - I used the whole can, but you can remove seeds from chiles and use half of the sauce, for less spicy heat. Okay to substitute with enchilada or red chile sauce from a 14.5 ounce can (it's easy to find, and with no spicy heat.)
- 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes - diced, tomato sauce or even whole tomatoes. Just break up tomatoes as they soften from stewing.
- 1/2 onion - chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic - chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano - or, one teaspoon of fresh oregano.
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin - optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
For dark meat with skin, saute in a large pan, skin side down, about 5-10 minutes over a medium/high heat. You want to brown the skin and get some charred bits as extra flavor.
Okay to remove skin for a lighter version. Use the same procedure for breast meat. No need to brown both sides of the chicken, or cook it all the way - you will simmer it later, until well done. (Of course, keep semi-raw poultry on a different plate from other ingredients to prevent cross-contamination.) And, if you are in a hurry, you can skip this browning chicken part.
While chicken browns, chop half an onion. When one side of chicken is brown, remove it and add the chopped onion. Stir onion and scrape loose the brown bits on the bottom of pan. Saute onion about 5 minutes until soft.
Add garlic and saute another minute. Now add spices and herbs.
Sprinkle in ground cumin, dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour in a can of chipotle peppers. For a less spicy version, add half of the liquid and peppers.
(To reduce spicy heat, substitute chipotle peppers in adobe sauce with a small 14.5 ounce can of enchilada or red chili sauce.) You can also only use tomato sauce with a tablespoon of dried chili.
Add a can of diced tomatoes or plain tomato sauce. Mix all the ingredients.
Finally add the browned chicken pieces. Bring up liquid to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook about one hour, until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Click on any photo to see larger.
Remove chicken pieces from sauce and allow to cool for a few minutes. Slice into thickest part of chicken to make sure it's cooked all the way through. (This is a good time to break up tomatoes, if you used large pieces.)
While meat heats up get all the taco ingredients ready. Heat up some corn tortillas. I like to top my tacos with fresh chopped onion and cilantro. Other toppings include - tomato, lettuce, avocado, cheese, and a squeeze of lime.
Chicken Tinga also goes with white and brown steamed rice, or your favorite grain or carb. (I have a Mexican Rice recipe here.) You can also make a Chicken Tinga Bowl with pinto beans (recipe here, or used canned) and rice, for extra heft. Make a Chicken Tinga Burrito, with your favorite fillings. Or leave out the carbs and just top a bowl of Chicken Tinga stew with fresh chopped onion, cilantro, a slice of avocado, and a squeeze of lime.
My Chicken Tinga recipe is easy to half. Use the same amount of tomato sauce and chipotle peppers, just add less chicken. There is more sauce, but that's a good thing.
Use any cheap, tasty poultry parts you like: legs, thighs, or breast. It's all good. Remove skin for a low calorie stew.
I brown the chicken, but you can skip it and go right to cooking the chopped onion.
Substitute spicy chipolte peppers with enchilada sauce for a mild version.
For another simple non-spicy version just use canned tomato sauce and sprinkle on a tablespoon of red Chili Powder. Chili Powder is made from mild dried chilis. So you get the that deep chili flavor without the chipotle heat.
This recipe makes plenty of Chicken Tinga, but it freezes well. Freeze in a couple of batches for later use. I like to pack a few tortillas with chopped onion and cilantro for work lunches. The stew and tortillas heat well in a micowave.