Also known as tinga de pollo, chicken tinga is popular throughout central and southern Mexico, presumed to have a Pueblan origin. Based with shredded chicken, the dish is also accompanied by a sauce rampant with tomato, tomatillo, chipotle chilli and onion – delicious on its own, or in a great number of dishes such as enchiladas, burritos, tostadas, or tacos loaded with chicken tinga, quickly pickled radishes, avocado and your salsa of choice.
Chicken Tinga Recipe Cooking Tips
This recipe uses tinned tomatillos, although fresh tomatillos can certainly be used for chicken tinga. The tinned variety are far more readily available in the UK however. Alternatively, gooseberries can be used as a decent substitute if tomatillos are unavailable, or if you have a wealth of leftover gooseberries.
Good-quality tomatoes are absolutely crucial when making this dish. Any in-season tomato will work well, but ideally use ripe red tomatoes. It’s also worth noting that plum tomatoes tend to be less watery.
Chicken thighs will work best for this recipe, ideally with the bone still intact. Chicken breast will also work, but it’s far less fatty and will thus become dry far easier.
Once cooked, the chicken can be shredded with two forks or tongs then either eaten straight away or reheated later. The chicken tinga can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed container, or frozen in freezer-safe containers. Thaw before gently reheating to avoid drying out the chicken.
Chicken tinga is an extremely versatile dish, delicious on its own, in tacos, enchiladas, fajitas or burritos, or even simply with rice or other side dishes. My favourite use is in chicken tinga tacos, however, capped with quickly pickled radishes, a slice of avocado and a small dollop of salsa.
- 700 g chicken thighs
- 380 g tinned tomatillos rinsed
- 6 ripe plum tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 30 ml cider vinegar
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp chipotle paste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- Neutral cooking oil such as vegetable or rapeseed oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Add a splash of oil to a saucepan and heat until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan, skin side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes on medium-high heat, without turning, to brown the skin, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until lightly seared. Remove from the pan and set aside until later.
- Add the tomatillos and tomatoes to the pan and continue to cook over high heat for approximately 5 minutes, until well coloured. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute or 2, then add in the onion and reduce the heat to medium.
- Stir and cook until softened (around 3-4 minutes), then season with salt and add the oregano and bay leaves. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the vinegar and stock to the pan. Also return the chicken to the pan and increase the heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, then remove from the pan and set aside.
- Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce until it reduces by around half, then blend until smooth.
- Remove the chicken from the bone, shred the meat and return to the blended sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.