I can’t say I’d heard of Chicken Tinga until I read Thomasina Miers’ recent cookbook, Home Cook. Even in there it’s only really mentioned as a side note, but it was enough to pique my curiosity. It didn’t take long until I found out just how common it is. Indeed, I’ve since found a Tinga sauce in my local supermarket, so I was clearly behind the curve!
That being said I don’t think Chicken Tinga is widely known here in the UK. I suspect it’s because you just don’t see it on restaurant menus that much. It’s quite a simple dish, made of shredded chicken in a spicy tomato and onion sauce, so maybe it just isn’t exciting enough. Though as with many recipes I feel it necessary to point out that simple doesn’t have to mean boring. Indeed, I personally think it’s a great recipe to make at home instead of the more usual Chilli con Carne.
As with much Mexican-inspired food getting your Chicken Tinga to taste right is a question of balance. Good ingredients are essential as is a decent balance of the spicing. Too much chilli and it’s inedible, too little and it’s excessively plain. In this recipe I suggest using chipotle paste – which is quite easy to find these days. If not, I would have bought some dried ancho chillis, or similar, and made my own. I don’t think a basic chilli powder would work.
I’ve also cooked it for a little longer to reduce the tomatoes down to a thick coating for the chicken and onions. That’s because I think the chicken works very well served as a soft taco. A warmed corn tortilla filled with the spicy chicken sauce, Pico de Gallo and crisp lettuce, then drizzled with a little sour cream really is quite delicious. Especially with a little bit of strong cheddar cheese grated over the top. It may not be authentic, but damn it tastes good.
Chicken Tinga Soft Tacos
For the Chicken Tinga
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion peeled and sliced into half-moons
- 1 tbsp Smoked Chipotle Paste
- 350 g Crushed Tomatoes or Passata Rustica
- 2 cooked Chicken Breasts shredded
For the Soft Tacos
- 4 Soft Corn or Flour Tortillas warmed
- Pico de Gallo see notes
- Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
- Soured Cream
- Grated Cheese Cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften.
- Add the chipotle paste and stir to coat the onions, then cook for a further minute or two before adding in the crushed tomatoes. Mix well, bring to a simmer then reduce the heat and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until thickened.
- Add the shredded, cooked chicken to the pan and mix into the sauce. Once the chicken is heated through it’s ready to serve – though you may want to cook it for a little longer if the sauce is still a bit runny.
- Serve with warmed corn tortillas – filling each with a generous amount of lettuce, followed by the chicken tinga. Top with Pico de Gallo, soured cream and grated cheddar cheese.