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Bastardized (but easy peezy) tinga de pollo tacos
January 13, 2010, 8:39 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you are a Mexican food purist and take issue with degrees of authenticity in cooking, please stop reading this post. You will be offended. If you are a Mexican food enthusiast and busy cook who is too exhausted and too hungry to do a whole lot of work after getting home from work, read on for my bastardized tinga de pollo (stewed chicken) taco recipe.

I first came across tinga de pollo in Mexico City at a quesadilla kiosk in Coyoacan on the Avenue Hidalgo. The chicken was moist, flavorful, and needed no cheese, served simply sandwiched between the halves of a pan-grilled corn tortilla. I fell in love at first bite.

When I returned to NYC, I vowed to recreate the best quesadilla of my life, but in taco form. I did a bit of research. Tinga is a general term that refers to any meat (beef, chicken, or pork) that is shredded and stewed in a spicy tomato sauce.  Tinga is Spanish for “chicken.” It can be served in warm tortillas as tacos, on tostadas, in quesadillas, or as a meal with a side of beans and/or rice and tortillas. Unfortunately, I found that stewing chicken and making salsa verde from scratch takes time, and I am not always in the mood to spend that time. (If you want to do this from scratch, click here for a great tinga de pollo tostada recipe.) I took some dramatic shortcuts, but the end result was still tasty and superfast, and it’s great for a weeknight build-your-own-taco dinner party. Recipe after the jump.

Easy peezy tinga de pollo tacos (Serves 4-8)

Ingredients

For tinga de pollo tacos:
* 1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (I recommend a plain, unseasoned one from Whole Foods)
* 18 Mexican corn tortillas, often sold in packs of 20 or 30
* 1/2 cup of chicken broth (I used a can of College Inn chicken broth)
* 1 to 2 cups of cream of tomato soup (I used Pacific Foods creamy tomato soup)
* 2 tablespoons chipotle chile sauce (Also from a can, check the International foods aisle)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

For sides and toppings (all optional – pick what you like!):
* 1 package of cotija cheese, crumbled
* 1 can or jar of salsa verde
* 1 can of warmed black beans or refried beans
* 1 red onion, diced
* 3 small radishes, cleaned and sliced
* 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
* 3 limes, cut into wedges
* 1 bottle (or more!) of hot sauce (I like Tapatio or Cholula.)
* 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce or green/red cabbage
* 2 cups Mexican crema or sour cream
* 1 large or 2 small avocadoes, sliced or smashed
* 1 small can of diced pickled jalapenos, even better if you can find a can with pickled carrots and onions

Preparation

For tinga de pollo tacos:
Remove skin from rotisserie chicken, reserve for another use (maybe chicken chicharron). Pull meat off chicken and shred into small pieces, placing chicken into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken broth, cream of tomato soup, and chipotle chile sauce to taste and stir well, making sure that the chicken is moistened, but not soupy. While the chicken simmers, heat up a griddle or skillet and add a touch of olive oil. Oil should be hot, but not smoking. Add corn tortillas to griddle without overlapping, and heat on each side for about 15 seconds. Tortillas should be soft and pliable, not rigid or crunchy. Remove and place tortillas in a stack wrapped in tin foil to retain heat; repeat heating of tortillas until you have warmed the desired number of tortillas. Remove chicken from saucepan and transfer to serving dish.

For sides and toppings:
Place each side or topping in a separate bowl – except for the hot sauce(s), which are likely in bottles – and stick a small serving spoon in each bowl except for the lime and radish bowls. Allow guests to build their own tacos according to their tastes; the limes can be squeezed over the taco and hot sauce can be added as a finishing touch, and the radish slices should be eaten on the side.

Muy delicioso!

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