Tag Archives: chipotles

Tinga de Pollo y Papas

Most of what we in the United States think of as Mexican food is derived from the post-conquest cuisines of the border states of Chihuahua and Sonora. The Spanish influence is seen in the heavy use of cheese and meat which were virtually unknown in pre-Columbia Mesoamerica.  Farther south in Puebla and Oaxaca the food retains more of its traditional character. Chef and cookbook author Rick Bayless champions this distinctly more interesting cuisine. This recipe, which I adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (New York: Scribner, 1996), pp 322-323, is an example from Puebla. Traditionally, tinga does not contain potatoes but Bayless’s use of them gives the dish an interesting texture and flavor. And, after all, potatoes are in the same botanical family and originated in the same area of South America as do tomatoes. In Mexico City, tinga is served on crispy tostadas topped with queso fresco and a slice of avocado. I usually present it with a plate of warm corn tortillas, shredded sharp cheddar, and avocado if I have some.


Garlic, unpeeled

3 or more cloves

Canned chipotles en adobo

2 or more to taste

Tomatoes, diced or whole

1 14-ounce can

Chicken fat, oil, lard, or combination

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons) divided use

Chicken thighs, skinless*


Boiling potatoes

3 or 4 medium, about 250 grams (½ pound)

Onion, yellow or white

1 medium, about 125 grams (¼ pound)

Dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1 teaspoon


To taste

Tortillas, corn or flour, to serve

3 or 4 per person

Avocado slices and cheese, to garnish

To taste

* bone-in are best.


Put the garlic cloves, unpeeled, in a small dry skillet over medium heat, turning from time to time, until they have softened. When cool enough to handle, remove the peels and put into a food processor or blender along with the chipotles and tomatoes with their juice. Process to a smooth puree.

Warm 15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon) of the fat in a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat. When nearly smoking, pour in the puree and cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium-low and submerge the chicken thighs in the sauce. Cover and simmer until the meat is done, about 25 minutes. Remove the thighs to a plate, leaving as much sauce as possible behind. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones in large shreds.

Using the coarse grating disk of the food processor or a hand grater, shred the potatoes. Roll them into a kitchen towel and squeeze out as water as possible. Thinly slice the onion. Add the remaining fat to a large non-stick skillet (I use a 12” one) over medium heat. Cook the potatoes and onions, tossing or stirring regularly, until well browned. Pour in the sauce, sprinkle on the oregano, and fold in the chicken. Heat through and season to taste with salt.

Turn the finished tinga into a warmed serving bowl. Present with warmed tortillas and garnishes.

Pork and Bean Enchiladas, Oaxacan-style

Ok, I admit that I am using the term “enchilada” somewhat loosely because in this dish the tortillas are layered rather than rolled. In the past I have made pork enchiladas with just the pork picadillo but I wanted to add more vegetable content to the dish. The addition of low-fat refried beans makes this a nicely balance one-dish meal especially if accompanied by a green salad.

This recipe that I adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (Scribner, NY 1996) consists of four parts: the sauce, the beans, the picadillo, and the final dish. Any or all of the first three can be done ahead. And for that matter you could use canned refried beans. If you do make any parts ahead remember to bake the final dish a bit longer to ensure that it is heated through.

Tomato-Chipotle Sauce


2 or 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes, preferably no-salt added

2 to 4 (or more) canned chipotles en adobo with a tablespoon of the adobo

1 Tbsp. oil or lard (the latter being more authentic)

Salt to taste


Put the unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat and roast, turning regularly, until soft and partly blackened. Let cool, peel, and put into the bowl of a food processor. Add the tomatoes and chipotles to the bowl and process to a medium puree.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil is nearly smoking, dump in the puree all at once. Stir as it sizzles then cooks down for about 5 minutes. It is done when the bubbles leave little craters in the surface of the sauce when they burst. Taste and season with salt.

Refried Beans


8 ounces dried pinto beans

4 cups carnitas cooking liquid or water

1 Tbsp. oil or lard

Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the beans and pick over for discolored ones or small stones. Place in a pressure cooker along with the liquid. Cook on high pressure (15 psi) for 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then release the pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the beans and ½ cup cooking liquid. Mash with a potato masher, adding more liquid as needed until you have a slightly lumpy thick paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Picadillo Oaxaqueño


1 Tbsp. oil or lard

8 ounces shredded carnitas

1 medium onion, chopped

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ cup currants or raisins

1 cup tomato-chipotle sauce


Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and fry the onion and pork together stirring regularly until the mixture is crispy, about 15 minutes. Add the cinnamon, pepper, cloves, raisins, and sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Enchiladas


14 corn tortillas

The tomato-chipotle sauce

The refried beans

The picadillo

4 ounces shredded cheddar or jack cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel and place in a large steamer. Bring to a boil for one minute then let steam off heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut all but 3 tortillas in half. (You will need only 12 but I find that a couple always stick to the towel.)

Put a light coating of sauce in an oven-proof pan roughly 8 inches by 12 inches by 2 inches deep. Arrange the tortilla halves along the outside edges of the dish, cut side out, and finish with a whole tortilla in the middle, using a total of 4 tortillas. Spread on the beans and a small amount of sauce, about ½ cup. Arrange another layer of tortillas on top of the beans and spread with the picadillo and another ½ cup of sauce. Cover with the last layer of tortillas, the rest of the sauce, and the cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is slightly brown.