Chicken tinga, or “tinga de pollo” in Spanish, originated in Puebla, Mexico. It is a rich stewed meat dish composed of shredded chicken, chipotle chiles, tomatoes, and other Mexican spices, including oregano, bay leaves, and garlic.
In its most traditional form, it is served as a stew with tortillas, but other adaptations feature it on a tostada alongside refried beans. Whether served on rice or in tortillas alongside limes, avocado, sour cream, or cotija cheese, the star remains that tinga! The smoky and spicy chipotle adobo makes this dish incredibly distinct and ridiculously flavorful.
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Unlike other blog posts out there, we create our own chipotle adobo and balance those hot peppers with various acids. The primary reason for this is because you cannot know what type of adobo you are getting in a jar. We want you to trust the flavors and ensure their authenticity.
We have prepared an authentic “tinga de pollo,” but our adaptation also includes lightly caramelized onions to add some additional sweetness to the dish to offset its spice. Serve it however you desire. Check out the “Need-to-Know” section below for recommendations.
The key to making “tinga de pollo” is learning how to treat the chiles to make the adobo, in which the chicken is cooked. For an in-depth look into all Mexican chiles, their flavors, and their treatment, visit our post, “How to Treat Dried Chiles for Mexican Adobos and Salsas.” We employ chipotle chiles in this recipe that are sweet, smoky, and very spicy.
There are different types of chipotle chiles. One is dark brown and looks like a shriveled prune whereas the other is red, relatively thin, and long. We traditionally use the former rather than the latter. However, you can employ either in our recipe. See our “Taquitos de Tinga de Pollo” recipe for photos of the former or below for photos of the latter.
Storage of Chiles
The shelf-life of dried chiles is three to six months. When storing dried chiles, store them in airtight containers in a cool dark place. Alternatively, you may store them in airtight containers in the freezer. This step will ensure that the chiles stay fresh for the maximum time.
Toast the Spices
Before use, toast the dried chiles in a dry sauté pan at medium heat to enhance those flavors by releasing their natural oils. When they appear intensely aromatic, they are ready for use. The toasting process should only take 1 minute. Be careful not to burn them as they will develop a bitter taste.
Soak the Chiles
For tinga de pollo, dried chiles are used to make the adobo, but they are rehydrated before use. To rehydrate dried chiles, you must soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes or until they are fully hydrated. Use a spoon periodically to push them into the liquid so that the entire chile is adequately soaked. Once soft, they are ready to be blended.
How to Eat It
- Serve it on a bed of rice.
- Serve it on charred tortillas.
- Limes squeezed
- Thinly sliced jalapenos. For extra acidity, pickle them! Visit our post to learn how.
- Sliced avocado
- Sour cream or full-fat yogurt
- Cotija cheese
Reheating and Storage
Store leftover tinga in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, add the tinga to a saucepan on the stovetop at medium heat. Heat it until warm throughout.
Love your Leftovers
Extra Tinga de Pollo?
Here are some tasty options for eating the leftovers:
- Serve it alongside scrambled eggs and roasted fingerling potatoes.
- Eat it over a bed of rice.
- Make our taquitos.
- Spoon it onto a tortilla with a combination of meltable cheeses, fold it over and fry it in a saucepan to make a quesadilla.
Purge your Fridge
You just finished enjoying our “tinga de pollo,” and you are left with some extra chicken stock. Here are some tasty ways to rid your fridge of the leftover stock:
- Summer Vegetable Quinoa Salad.
- Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Shallots and Fresh Herbs.
- Creamy Polenta.
- Make our Mushroom and Pea Risotto with the leftover chicken stock.
- Butternut Squash Soup.
Tinga de Pollo
- 8 chicken thighs
- 4 dried chipotle chiles
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes 14.5 oz.
- 2 white onions diced and julienned
- 1 lime squeezed
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ground pepper
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped (garnish)
1. Clean the Chicken, Cut the Vegetables, and Grate the Cheese
- Clean chicken thighs and pat them dry. Set aside.
- Dice one onion and cut the other onion into julienne strips. Set aside.
- Roughly chop the garlic. Set aside.
2. Toast Chiles and Soak them for 30 minutes
- Cut chipotle chiles in half and remove seeds. Remove what you can with a paring knife. The remaining seeds will be easy to remove after the soaking process.
- Place sauté pan on the stovetop at medium heat. Add dried chiles to the pan and toast them for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Half-fill a saucepan with water and place the saucepan on the stovetop at high heat. Once the water is hot, turn off the heat on the stovetop and add the chiles.
- Soak for them for 30 minutes.
3. Sauté Onions, Garlic, and Spices
- Place sauté pan on the stovetop at medium-low heat. Add olive oil and allow it to heat.
- Add diced onions and garlic. Sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add oregano, ground cumin, and cumin seeds. Sauté for an additional 5-7 minutes.
4. Blend the Adobo
- Blend the chopped onion/garlic mixture with soaked chiles and fire-roasted tomatoes in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
5. Sauté the Onions
- Place a pot on the stovetop at medium-low heat. Add olive oil and allow it to heat.
- Add the julienne onion strips and sauté the julienne onion strips.
- Sauté them for 40-50 minutes to allow them to caramelize them moderately. Turn the stovetop to low heat if the onions are cooking too quickly.
6. Cook Up the Adobo
- Add blended adobo, chicken stock, water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar salt, and ground pepper. Stir.
- Cover the pot with its lid and allow the adobo to cook for 10-15 minutes to marry the flavors.
7. Cook the Chicken in the Adobo and Shred-It
- Add the chicken thighs to the pot. Stir.
- Cover the pot with its lid. Cook the chickens for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
- Remove the chicken from the adobo. Shred the chicken.
8. Reduce the Adobo and Toss the Chicken
- Remove the lid, and increase the heat on the stovetop to medium-high.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce reduces to a thick consistency.
- Add the shredded chicken back to the pot.
9. Let’s Plate
- Squeeze lime juice over chicken tinga.
- Serve the chicken tinga with tortillas, sliced jalapeno peppers, avocado slices, and sour cream.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro.