Full disclosure: I came up with this approximation for chicken tinga after Googling several recipes and pulling together the best bits – pretty much how I make any new recipe. The results pretty much blew me away, absolutely stunning. First the recipe, then the long, dull wordy stuff below.
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 small onion
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 10 oz can rotel tomatoes
- 1/2 7 oz can chipotle peppers and sauce
- 1.5 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sugar
Add diced onion and oil to large pan, cook over medium heat until softened
Add chicken breasts and cook in oil until chicken starting to brown
Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stir
Add tomatoes, chipotles and sauce, chicken stock, bay leaf, sugar, oregano and cumin
Cover, cook on low heat, just so sauce is simmering, cook for 45 minutes or until chicken starts to pry apart with a fork and knife
Break the chicken up a little and remove the lid, cook uncovered over low-medium heat until sauce disgnifcantly reduces into more of a thick gravy, rather than watery sauce
Continue gently shredding/brealking down chicken in pan as it cooks for desired final consistency
Essentially this dish relies on slow cooking tomatoes and chipotle peppers with chicken. The rest is somewhat personal preference. If you look around the internet most people are using pre-cooked shredded chicken, and this would be a great way to use leftover chicken.
That said, the slow and low cooking here supports richer flavors I think; my recipe uses fresh chicken breasts, slowly cooked in the pan (no slow cooker eight hours here) them till they break down. That means it will probably take you at least 90 minutes, if not 120 minutes to cook. This isn’t one of those “dinner in five minute” deals. But hey the results are worth it. Side note: I bet an insta-pot would make this recipe in no time at all.
In my version I like to use Rotel canned tomatoes. Why? The 10oz size is perfect, they’re pre-diced up and they break down to nothingness after 90 minutes of simmering, and they come in a range of versions. In the above recipe I used habanero Rotel tomatoes and WOW this was incendiary. They offer mild to medium to spicy versions and are avioabale in all grocery stored around the country.
For chipotle peppers I used the Embasa brand, again a popular brand you should be able to find anywhere. I used about half a can here. Obviously you can tweak things as you see fit – but chicken, tomatoes, chipotles and garlic are the crux of a great tinga; don’t skimp with these.