Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tinga de Pollo (Spicy Chicken!)

by Ann

We have a busy, exciting week in store -- this is "wedding week" for our dear niece Megan, and her fiance, Aaron.  Amanda and Eric, the first out-of-towners arrived on Friday from Germany where Eric is a pilot for the Air Force.  Wanting to be able to spend some time catching up with this niece and her hubby before the wedding related festivities get going, I planned an informal family dinner so we'd have a chance to see what they've been up to without having to compete for their time.

What to make for dinner?  I wanted to do something simple and and southwestern, so decided on "Tinga de Pollo," a recipe that was shared with me by a Culinary Arts teacher whose Hispanic students introduced it to her.  Be forewarned! It is very spicy! The flavor-packed chicken can be made into a burrito, tostado, taco, or served on top of a bed of lettuce.  Spanish rice, black beans, salad, guacamole, chips, and a multitude of garnishes were also served.

The ingredients for Tinga de Pollo are few -- basically just chicken, onion, tomato, and a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I was very reluctant to add as much onion as called for, but once cooked it does not seem too "onion-y" at all.  The recipe calls for 3-5 onions.  I used three and a half, one at the beginning of the cooking process, and the remaining sauteed with a bit of garlic prior to adding the chicken and sauce.

The small can of peppers packs  A LOT of punch!!

Yes, this seems like w-a-y too many onions, but it all works in the end!  Cook  them until they are soft prior to adding the chicken.
I knew that the dish was very spicy, and wasn't sure that my guests would all be brave enough to eat it that way, so I kept some of it out plain.  Because of that I was reluctant to add all of the sauce at once, so I added the sauce to the chicken gradually.

Once we were ready to eat, everyone grabbed a plate and tortillas, got chicken, rice and beans, and moved  on to get the toppings (see below) 

Tinga de Pollo

6 chicken breasts, skin removed if not skinless
2-4 chicken bouillon cubes, or the equivalent
3-5 onions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T oil
6 medium fresh tomatoes, or the canned equivalent
1 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2-3 c water

  1. Cook the chicken breasts in a crock pot or in enough water to keep moist with the bouillon cubes for a bit of extra flavor and 1 onion, roughly chopped until thoroughly cooked.
  2. Cool chicken and shred meat with two forks.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet and cook remaining onions and minced garlic.  (I used 2 and a half more large onions – it seemed like A LOT of onion, but it worked out great.)
  4. Place tomatoes and entire can of peppers in sauce in blender, processing until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the chicken and tomato to the onions in the pan, and cook until the sauce is evenly distributed.  Add broth from when the chicken was cooked if needed, but the chicken should be somewhat dry once the sauce is added.  If there is extra moisture, cook until it is absorbed.

With tortillas, chips, tostado shells, or on salads with sour cream and avocado slices.

Yield:  LOTS!  It's amazing how much five shredded chicken breasts and a pan of onions can feed -- if you serve it with what I did, this could easily have been dinner for ten or more people.

I will also include my recipe for Spanish rice.  I came up with this back in my teaching days when my students needed to make large quantities of rice for events.  It is simple and good, I don't even like rice very much!

Spanish Rice

2 c chicken broth
1 t garlic salt
½ c salsa
¼ t cumin
½ t chili powder
¼ t ground oregano
2 T dehydrated onions

1 c converted rice

1.      Bring first 7 ingredients to a boil. 
2.      Add rice, and bring back to boil.
3.      Cover tightly, and simmer 20 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed.

The guests of honor with my mom, Amanda's grandma.
P.S. - I tried to find a translation for "Tinga" on the Internet with no luck -- but there are lots of similar versions of this recipe available online.  It's popular for good reason.  


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  2. I thought I had commented but apparently not! I'm definitely going to try this delicious looking recipe!! I love to cook and we love to eat. I'll let you know how it turns out.