My son Jacob spent Hurricane Irene with a Mexican friend in Washington Heights, New York City. Jose not only provided Jacob with shelter, he also cooked for him. When I called Jacob to see how he had fared in the storm, he didn’t mention the howling winds or the torrential rain. All he could talk about was the dish Jose made, called “tinga.” He talked me through the recipe over the phone and I made it the following night. It is really, really good and pretty easy. If, like me, you are dying for lack of decent Oaxacan restaurants, this might hold you.
(can also be made with pulled pork or shredded beef)
– Four half chicken breasts or six thighs (thighs are best)
– 5 medium onions or more, sliced thin
– 2 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped up
– five or six medium tomatoes and five or six tomatillos if you have them
– 7 ounce can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, or three or four fresh chipotle chiles roasted in a heavy frying pan till browned (plus – a tablespoon of vinegar and half a tablespoon of paprika, see below)
– 1 cube chicken or vegetable bouillon
– a large handful of cilantro
– corn tortillas
– Mexican cheese, preferably some nice, salty queso fresco
– sour cream
Put the chicken in a soup pot with a quarter of the onions and the garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool. Tear meat into shreds when cool enough to handle, discarding skin and bones.
Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse them to get the stickiness off. Bring chicken water back to a boil and add the whole tomatoes and tomatillos. Cook until the tomatoes split and are somewhat tender, about seven or eight minutes. Reserve the broth for other uses.
Put tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles (with their adobo sauce if you are using canned chiles), bouillon and cilantro in a blender and process until smooth. If you are using fresh chiles, add half a tablespoon of paprika and a tablespoon of vinegar to the blender too.
Cook remaining onions in oil in a frying pan over medium low heat until translucent but not brown. Add the tomato mix and shredded chicken to the pan, mix well, and heat through.
Heat up passable corn tortillas on a comal or frying pan in a little oil to slightly crisp them. If you want, spread each tortilla with hot refried beans. Add a heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture to the top of each tortilla, dab on some sour cream and sprinkle with a little Mexican cheese.
Fold over and eat. Feel your eyes roll up into the back of your head as you swoon.