Recently I renewed my subscription to one of my favorite cooking magazines, “Cooks Illustrated”. But, this time, I only subscribed to the iPad version rather than getting the paper magazines mailed. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but the iPad version has all sorts of extra features and videos which make it very cool.
While I was sitting in the Firestone lobby waiting for my car’s oil change, I was reading through the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated and found a recipe/article about chicken tinga tacos. Chicken tacos are a big favorite in our house, but making them a new way sounded intriguing.
These are a bit different than what we usually make, but I figured I’d try it out. First, the recipe calls for chicken thighs which have a bit more fat than the usual chicken breasts. Second, you make your own sauce for the chicken rather than using a packet of seasoning bought from a store.
Here are the ingredients:
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- 3 garlic cloves (or the pre-minced stuff, which is what I use)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz can)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp minced canned chile in adobo plus 2 tsp adobo sauce
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp lime zest + 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 12 corn tortillas (6-inch)
- 1 avocado, halved and sliced
- 2 oz Cojita cheese, crumbled or shredded (to put atop tacos)
The full instructions will be at the bottom, but first a few notes about what I did.
First, you need to brown the chicken breasts in a big heavy pot like dutch oven.
Brown them in two batches. Once done, take them out and put them on a plate.
Then using the same pan you’ll make the sauce and then blend it, then add all the chicken back in and cook a bit more.
When you open that big can of chile with adobo – you don’t have to throw the rest away! What I do is freeze it in an old ice-cube tray and then when frozen seal the cubes in a foodsaver bag and keep frozen. Then you have ready to thaw one time use portions so you don’t have to buy a can every time this ingredient comes up.
When you go to shred the chicken, you can either shred with two forks or, if you have a Kitchen-Aid Mixer, you can shred with that! All you have to do is take the chicken pieces and put them in the bowl of the mixer with the regular paddle attachment. Start the mixer on low and you will see how super easy it is to shred cooked chicken. This trick is one of my favorite kitchen tricks. You are welcome. 🙂
Now for the full directions for the recipe – modified from Cooks Illustrated July and August 2016.
- For the Chicken: pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. Heat one tbsp oil in the Dutch oven over med-hi heat until shimmering. Add half of the chicken and brown on both sides. Once brown, transfer to a plate and do the same with the second half of the chicken.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned – about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant. Add tomato, broth, chipotle and adobo sauce, sugar and bring to a boil. Scrape up the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Return chicken to pot, reduce heat to med-low, cover, simmer until meat is cooked through (195 degrees F). This should take about 15-20 minutes. Flip the chicken over after about 5 minutes of cooking to make sure it gets cooked through. Remove chicken and transfer to cutting board to shred with forks or transfer to mixer bowl to shred with Kitchen-Aid.
- Transfer cooking liquid to blender and process until smooth. Return to pot and then add back the shredded chicken. Cook until sauce thickens and sticks to chicken, stir frequently. Stir in lime juice and zest.
- Serve up on warm tortillas with avocado, cheese, and maybe some scallions and/or cilantro. Yum!