As I said on Wednesday, Kramer and I have really been missing Mexican food, so we decided to make our own at home. I shared the corn tortillas that I made with you then, and now I present the best chicken tacos that I have ever made. These tacos were nice and spicy while still being a bit sweet, and the chicken was tender and moist. I had always shied away from making tacos with chipotle chilies in adobo sace because I thought it was just another unnecessary ingredient. Wrong! These chilies were what was standing between me and the most perfect tacos.
Chipotle chilies are basically smoke-dried jalapeño chilies, and they’re very popular in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The chipotle chilies that I used in my recipe were canned in adobo sauce, which includes spices, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and often other types of chilies, which indeed my cans had. Adobo simply means “sauce” or “marinade”, and this sauce should always be included in whatever you’re cooking when using the canned chipotle chilies because it’s absolutely delicious. These canned chilies go well with chicken, pork, beef, and seafood, as well as vegetables. Tinga de pollo itself means “stewed chicken”, and is typically used to top tostadas or sopas (soups), but I had tacos in mind for my tinga de pollo. It is typically made by stewing shredded or chopped chicken, pork, or beef in a sauce of tomatoes, chilies, and other spices, as I did in this recipe. The result is a delicious dish that is spicy, smokey, and sweet, with the wonderful textures of shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes, and sauteed onions. If you don’t have any tacos on hand, don’t worry! This is a great meal that can even be eaten alone. I added pico de gallo, which is an uncooked salsa of diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice. It’s a perfect contrast to the spicy chicken, as it’s cool and refreshing. If you want to try an authentic Mexican dish, this is it!
If you have leftover chicken, perfect, but if not, do what I did and simply boil the chicken in just enough water to cover it for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through, then shred with two forks. Set aside. Don’t worry about it getting cold, because it’ll heat back up when added to the sauce.
I then made my pico de gallo so it had some time for the flavors to meld together. Simply dice two tomatoes, a large red onion, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of cilantro, then add about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and squeeze a wedge of lime over everything. Toss to combine. Let it sit in the fridge so it stays nice and cool.
Pour the sauce into the pot and stir to combine with the onions and garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the sauce to thicken and heat for about 5 minutes, then add in your shredded chicken and allow to reduce for at least 8 minutes, until almost all of the liquid is gone. Season with salt and pepper.
I used my tinga de pollo to fill my homemade corn tortillas!
- 2-2.5 pounds boneless chicken breast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced thinly
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-5 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (these can be found in most grocery stores in the Hispanic aisle; you will most likely find them in a can or a tin), add depending on the level of heat you prefer; I added 5 chilies because I like my tacos to be spicy
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes (1 large can or 2 small cans)
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste (I tasted mine and didn’t feel that it needed either)
- queso blanco (optional)
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ lime
- Place your chicken in a pot and add enough water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-high. Cook for 15-20 minutes in total, until completely cooked. Remove from the pot and shred with two forks. Set aside.
- Make your pico de gallo next so it has time for the flavors to meld together. Combine your diced onion and tomatoes, then add your cilantro, salt, and pepper. Squeeze a quarter of a lime over everything and toss to combine. Adjust your flavors as necessary and place in the fridge while you finish making everything else so it stays nice and cool.
- In another pot, heat your olive oil and then add your onions and garlic. Allow to soften while you process your canned tomatoes, chilies in adobo sauce, chicken broth, nutmeg, and cumin in your food processor or blender until smooth. When the onions have softened (about 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat), add the adobo mixture and stir to combine, allowing to heat for 5 minutes over medium.
- Add in the shredded chicken and cook for at least 8 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use the chicken to fill your favorite tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or tostadas! Serves 4.