I want the Mexicans to love me so I try to cook food they like. I did my best to make Tinga based off of a Mexican recipe written in Spanish back in the day where I really wasn’t able to call myself fluent in the language. One time, my then boyfriend and future husband came home from work and I was proud to present him with Tinga. He was kind about my attempt but didn’t go crazy for it. I was disappointed. I then tasted it and realized...the heat.
Trying to figure out what had gone wrong I retraced my steps, reread the recipe and realized I had put in 3 latas (cans) of chipotles en adobo sauce instead of 3 chipotles. A small detail I overlooked - one little word - lata. My boyfriend spent the next couple days daring his friends to eat as much as possible to see who would have the most fierce stomach and who could prove his manhood by eating intensely hot food.
My next attempts were much more mindful of the chile quantity and I have had many compliments since. My proudest moment being when I overheard my husband’s cousin telling him that I cook Mexican food better than his wife who is from their beautiful country. I tend to still want to put in more chiles than the recipe calls for because it seems like a waste to toss the rest of the can but I recommend sticking to the recipe - don’t overdo it and the results will have your friends begging for a take home bag.
I cook my Tinga until it “becomes” Tinga. The best way to describe what “becoming” Tinga is is this- when all the spices have had enough time to settle into the chicken and your house smells nice and rich. If I had to estimate how long it simmers/becomes Tinga I would say about 45-60 minutes but you must make sure it doesn’t go dry. I like to keep a little of the chicken broth from the boiled chicken on the side of the stove and add broth as I simmer if I see the sauce is getting too dry. Also, when you pull the chicken off the bone, don’t shred it to fine pieces. Pull it off in big chunks and throw them into the tomato mixture. After the mess simmers for a while it will break into smaller pieces. It should not be a hash when done, it should be more like a tomato sauce with hunks of chicken in it.
For 4-6 Servings:
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce from one can
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large onion cut into half moons
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 6 cups shredded cooked chicken (I boil mine, it keeps it moist)
- Sour cream and/or crema mexicana
- Cotija cheese
Puree tomato sauce, chipotles and chicken stock in a blender. Set aside.
In a large sauce pan, sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the tomato mixture to the pan, along with the cumin, nutmeg and shredded chicken. Simmer for about one hour, until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with more stock and seasonings if needed.
When you plate up your food, place your tostada on a pretty saucer, then beans if you like (not necessary if you don’t) then the Tinga, lettuce, a ¼” slice of tomato, a couple slices of avocado, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of Cotiga cheese and serve.