Chicken tinga (known as tinga de pollo in Spanish) is a Mexican dish made with shredded chicken in a sauce made from tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo, chorizo, and sliced onion. The basis of the dish is Tinga Poblana, the Pueblan equivalent of a good Italian meat sauce that is utilizes the smokiness of chipotles. Just as every Italian Grandmother has their own special sauce, variations of the dish are rampant.
This is how we make chicken tinga at home and I based it on several versions I have read both online and in books to make it quick, easy, and palatable at home.
How to Make Chicken Tinga
Begin by bringing a pot of water boiling and adding the whole, skinless chicken breasts with a half onion, some smashed and peeled garlic cloves, and a bouillon cube. Bring it down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is about 165 degrees. Pull the chicken out, shred it with a fork and set the pot of water aside – don’t toss it! We’ll use a little of the liquid later.
While the chicken is cooking begin the tomato puree – open the windows (it can get smoky!) and broil the roma tomatoes with the garlic and tomatillo for the salsa verde (I recommend broiling the ingredients for the salsa at the same time) until the tomatoes blacken in spots (a few minutes) flip and repeat. Puree the roma tomatoes and see the below section on how to finish the salsa.
While the tomatoes are broiling take a heavy, large frying pan and heat over medium heat with olive oil or lard. Add the onion and cook until brown and then add the chorizo and cook until its crumbly, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chipotle chilies, followed by the puree, and add a few tablespoons of the chicken reserved liquid
Cook the sauce until it’s been reduced by half and then add the chicken and and toss to coat. Serve on warmed tortillas with some salsa verde, onion, and cilantro. Congrats you just made chicken tinga!!
How to Make Salsa Verde
As mentioned above begin by opening the windows (it can get smoky!) and broiling the tomatoes, garlic, and tomatillo. For those super adventurous I’ve also done this part on the Green Egg over charcoal! Broil them for a few minutes and then flip half way. The goal is to get a few black spots on each side (but not burnt!).
You want the tomatoes to be soft and juicy as the broiling will help caramelize the sugars. This will make a slightly sweeter salsa verde vs just using raw ingredients.
Take the roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic and blend them with the Mexican oregano and honey to get a puree. Set aside to let cool – easy!
- 1 whole onion, halved
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 pound of tomatillos
- 1-2 serrano pepper
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 whole chicken breast
- ½ pound of mexican chorizo
- 1 pound of roma tomatoes
- 1 whole onion, 1 half diced the other half whole
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-2 whole chipotle peppers from can (with adobo sauce) chopped and some reserve adobo sauce
- Chopped cilantro (optional)
- Place the unpeeled onion halves, whole serrano, unpeeled garlic on a over tray and broil for a few minutes, flipping half way until blackened in spots
- Peel the garlic, onion, and remove the serron stems and place them with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth
- Set aside to cool
- Boil a pot of water and add the whole, skinless chicken breasts with a half onion, some smashed and peeled garlic cloves, and a bouillon cube.
- Bring it down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is about 165 degrees.
- Meanwhile, Broil the tomatoes for a few minutes on each side, until blacked in spots. Puree
- Heat a large frying pan at medium with olive oil or lard for a few minutes to warm
- Add the onion and cook until softened and then add the chorizo and cook until its crumbly, about 8 minutes.
- When done, remove the chicken from the pot, shred it with a fork and reserve a few tablespoons of liquid
- Stir in the chipotle chilies, followed by the roma tomato puree, and add a few tablespoons of the chicken reserved liquid
- Cook the sauce until it's been reduced by half and then add the chicken and and toss to coat.
- Serve on warmed tortillas with the salsa verde and some diced onion and cilantro
Cilantro can be a controversial ingredient. It's banned in our house but feel free to add it to either the chicken tinga or salsa verde.
If using store bought tortillas, warm them a bit on a griddle or cast iron skillet and put wrap them in a kitchen towel to make them soft before adding the tinga.