My mom came to visit me out in Washington a few months ago, and one night we went to a new restaurant that had opened in the town we live in. It was a Mexican restaurant a couple steps above casual – not fancy by any means but nicer than your average place. The atmosphere was incredible – rustic, ambient, and clearly well thought out. But the food…the food was AMAZING. We had our fair share of the most delicious guac I’ve ever had, and ordered plates full of beans, rice, carnitas, and so much more. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs for sure. This was my first taste of chicken tinga tacos, and let me tell you, I was hooked.
These bad boys were piled high with delicious pulled chicken coated in a not-too-spicy, but perfectly smoky tomato-based sauce and paired perfectly with cilantro, scallion, and house-made pickled red onions. Incredible. I knew I’d have to try to recreate them on my own. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure if I liked my own or the restaurant’s better…both were so unbelievably good.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2-2.5 medium to large sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- Half of a large yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tablespoon liquid smoke
- Small flour or corn tortillas (I think flour goes best with this sauce!)
- Toppings: finely chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, pickled red onions (see previous recipe!) crumbled cotija cheese, lime
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan and turn heat on to medium. Salt and pepper both sides of each piece of chicken and place in pan once it has come to temperature. Cook until browned on each side, then place in a glass baking dish.
- Drizzle a bit more olive oil into the same frying pan and add the onion, cooking a few minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté a few minutes more, being careful not to burn it. Add tomatoes, chipotle peppers and broth then bring to a boil for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn heat off and let the contents cool. While waiting, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Spoon sauce into a food processor (an immersion blender doesn’t really do the trick here) and blend until smooth. Pour it over the chicken into the baking dish, making sure to lift each piece and get it underneath, coating both sides. There will be lots of sauce – pour it all in!
- Bake in your preheated oven for about 40 minutes – you want it to be nice and bubbly, but thicker than when you put it in. When done, use two forks to shred the chicken and mix it up to coat it all in the sauce.
- Heat your tortillas in a frying pan over medium-low heat for maybe 30 seconds per side, then assemble your tacos and enjoy!