Why? Because it's the Goldilocks of recipes! Not too spicy, not too complicated, not too heavy, but just right. It's as perfect for a DIY taco night as it is a nacho topping or, our personal current favorite, on tostadas with a cool, crunchy radish pico de gallo salsa.
Chicken Tinga (aka Tinga De Pollo) is a recipe made up of shredded chicken that's served in a tomato and chipotle sauce. The recipe hails from Puebla -- a Mexican state that lays claim to some of our favorite classic Mexican foods like Mole Poblano and Chiles En Nogada.
When you travel to Puebla, you'll come across these dishes a lot and variations abound. We tend to turn to tinga the most because it's simple to make and can be made on your stovetop or your slow cooker.
This is a recipe that has kinda endless uses. We've put some on a salad with beans, avocado, and crumbled cheese. We've added it to breakfast from topping chilaquiles to a makeshift morning hash. We've stuffed it in tacos or even added it to deconstructed burrito bowls (above) and, of course, served them on tostadas!
Yes, you very much can make this recipe in the slow cooker. You could simply dump all the tinga ingredients (the onions, chipotle, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, oregano, and chicken) in the cooker and then set it and forget it. But we recommend you saute the onions first because it'll help add lots more flavor.
Once the ingredients are in the slow cooker, let it cook about 3 to 4 hours on LOW or 1.5 to 2 hours on HIGH. Then simply remove the chicken and shred it, blend the sauce (if you want -- you can also leave it unblended), stir the chicken and sauce together and serve!
Depending on how you're serving the Chicken Tinga, you might want to serve them with a side or two be it beans and rice or a veg. Here are some recipes we serve with it on the regular:
Finally, a note about the salsa. Asking yourself if this is simply classic Pico De Gallo salsa with radishes instead of tomatoes? Well, yes, you're correct!
We love using freshly made Pico De Gallo on dishes that need some acid and freshness but the result is underwhelming if you can't get uber-fresh tomatoes. Our solution is to make Pico De Gallo with radishes instead! The only difference from the classic salsa is that you want to add in a lot of lime juice -- to help bring out the floral and less harsh flavors in the radishes -- and you'll want to stir in a spoonful of oil to help meld all the flavors.
Oh, and as with classic Pico De Gallo, be sure to serve this salsa within about an hour of when it's made because that's when the flavor and texture are top!
or avocado oil, divided
plus 1 tablespoon sauce from can
trimmed of any excess fat
small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
Start The Chicken Tinga: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Take 1 1/2 halved red onions (ie 3 red onion halves) and thinly slice them into half moon shapes. Add the onion and salt and add black pepper to the pot, and cook until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the canned tomatoes, the chipotles and adobo sauce, oregano, and bay leaf, and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the broth and the chicken, stir to coat, and cook, turning every 10 minutes or so until the chicken is easily shredded with a fork, at least 45 minutes.
Shred The Chicken: Remove the chicken from the sauce, place on a board and shred into bite sized pieces with the help of two forks. Meanwhile, discard the bay leaf and place the remaining sauce ingredients -- tomatoes, broth, chipotles and adobo sauce and herbs -- in a blender. Puree until smooth then taste and add more salt or pepper as desired.
Return the sauce the pot along with the shredded chicken, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
FYI, you don't have to blend the sauce if you don't want to! Simply discard the bay leaf and then stir the shredded chicken back into the unblended ingredients until they're well incorporated. We prefer it blended because it makes for a saucier dish that we adore!
Make The Radish Pico De Gallo Salsa: Take the remaining 1/2 red onion and mince it. Combine the minced onions with all the minced radish, all the serrano chile, and all the lime juice. Stir in the last 1 tablespoon of oil and season well with salt and pepper. Snip or thinly slice the cilantro, stir it in, and serve immediately.
The salsa is best eaten within 1 hour of when it's made. However, you can still cut up and prepare all the ingredients up to 1 day ahead of time (keep it all refrigerated in airtight containers) and then toss it together right when you want to serve it.
Make The Tostadas: Top each tostada with a few spoonfuls of the chicken tinga, top with a spoonful of the salsa, add a drizzle of crema (or sour cream thinned with water until it's pourable), and serve immediately.
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