Tinga de pollo is a traditional taco filling that typically combines shredded chicken breast meat with a flavorful tomato-chipotle sauce. For deeper flavor, we chose boneless thighs and cooked them directly in the sauce. Fire-roasted tomatoes increased smokiness, and a little brown sugar and lime juice and zest further boosted the complexity. Simmering the cooked shredded chicken in the sauce before serving allowed the sauce to thicken and the flavors to meld and penetrate the meat. If you can’t find Cotija cheese, use farmer’s cheese or feta instead.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
- 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
- 6 scallions, minced
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges
For the Chicken
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of chicken and brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to large plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
- Reduce heat to medium, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot, and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until ragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juice, broth, chipotle and adobo sauce, and sugar and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits.
- Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat registers 195 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken after 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board.
- Transfer cooking liquid to blender and process until smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Return sauce to pot. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Return chicken to pot with sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and clings to chicken, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime zest and juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. For the Tacos
- Spoon chicken into center of each warm tortilla and serve, passing avocado, Cotija, scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.