Chicken and Potato Tinga
February 3, 2011
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Tinga, which roughly translates as “messy stew,” is the Mexican version of shredded meat much like American pulled pork. It is commonly used as a filling for enchiladas or served simply with warm tortillas, as I have done. This Pueblan recipe, Tinga de Pollo y Papas in Spanish, combines a number of pre-Columbian ingredients: potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and chiles. Perhaps because Mexican food in the U. S. is dominated by the cuisines of the northern border states especially Chihuahua and Sonora we do not usually associate potatoes with our southern neighbors. Yet potatoes, having originated in what is now Peru, are very much part of Mesoamerican cooking. I adapted this recipe from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (NY: Scribner, 1996) 322, 323. Incidentally, a food processor is a big help in preparing this dish.
- 2 dried chipotle chiles or 2 canned chiles en adobo
- 2 large or 3 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted and unsalted
- 2 Tbsp. oil or lard
- 4 medium chicken thighs, bone-in, skin and excess fat removed
- 4 medium boiling potatoes, about 1 to 1½ pounds
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- Corn and/or flour tortillas and cheese, sour cream, salsa, and other taco garnishes to serve
Heat an ungreased small cast iron skillet over medium heat and roast the unpeeled garlic, turning often, until soft, about 15 minutes. If using dried chipotles, remove their stems and place them in the skillet for about 30 seconds on each side until they are aromatic but not burnt. Remove to a small bowl and cover with hot water and set aside to rehydrate for about 30 minutes. Drain, discarding the water. (If using canned chipotles simply remove from their sauce and use as is.) Peel the garlic and in the food processor along with the chiles and tomatoes. Process to a smooth puree.
In a heavy saucepan with a lid (I used a 3 quart enameled Dutch oven) over medium-high heat 1 Tbsp. of the fat until nearly smoking. Pour in the puree all at once and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the chicken thighs, submerging them in the sauce. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken leaving as much sauce as possible in the pan. Set aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle pull the meat from the bones in large shreds.
Scrub or peel the potatoes and shred with the food processor’s medium or coarse shredding disk. Spread onto a kitchen towel then roll and twist to remove as much water as possible. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil or lard in a large (12-inch) non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add the onions and potatoes. Cook, stirring often until nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, fold in the sauce, oregano, and shredded chicken. Taste and season with salt. When warmed through turn into a bowl and serve immediately with tortillas and garnishes so that each diner can make their own tacos.