This chicken tinga is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make on a busy weeknight. Shredded chicken with a spicy, chipotle tomato sauce on top of a crisp tostada shell with sour cream, lettuce, and cheese… you can’t go wrong. It takes about an hour from start to finish, and it makes enough for plenty of leftovers!
The first time I had Tinga was in Seattle back in 2009 right after I graduated high school when I was visiting my dear, dear friends. They made it with slow-cooked pork, which was melt in your mouth delicious. This is a slightly quicker version with chicken, but it is no less flavorful. It is still one of my favorite dishes to this day! I still have yet to remake it with pork, but I definitely need to, because it was totally amazing.
Tinga can definitely get a bit messy when made with the tostada shells — I like to make my own by spritzing corn tortillas with olive oil & salt and baking them for 10-15 minutes at 400ºF — with the juice running down your hands, but the crunch to the shell, juicy sauce, and coolness you get from the sour cream go together SO perfectly to make my ideal dinner. I’m just always prepared with lots of paper towels for the mess and run straight to wash my hands afterward. Worth it!
Since I obviously can’t be dripping juices all over the place at work, I usually make some rice for leftovers and make my own little burrito bowls for meals at work! Still amazing and way less messy. The rice soaks up the sauce just perfectly.
I’ve been adapting this recipe for Tinga to make my perfect version over the years, and I think I’ve finally nailed it to something that isn’t overly spicy but has plenty of flavor and lots of good things going on with extra tomatoes, onions, and garlic. When I make guacamole to go alongside it, we’ll spread guac on the tostadas instead of sour cream, which is SO GOOD. I love the sour cream just as well though — you could also use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream if you want a slightly higher protein/better for you alternative!
What is your favorite dish that you come back to time and time again?
- 6 cups water
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 4 tsp salt, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2-28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, drained and divided
- 1 7-oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- tostada shells or corn tortillas
- lettuce, cheddar cheese, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), for topping
In a large pot, combine the water, chicken breast, 2 teaspoons of salt, quartered onion, and 3 cloves peeled garlic. Cook over medium to high heat, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken to a plate to cool, and reserve the broth. Once cooled, shred the chicken with a fork, OR you can shred it using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed -- SO MUCH QUICKER!
Add the cooked onion, garlic cloves, half of a can of drained diced tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add a little chicken broth if it looks too thick.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep pan, and add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent (about 2 minutes), and then add in the garlic and remaining diced tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and sauce from the blender. Simmer for about ten minutes, adding any more chicken broth if it appears too dry.
If making tostadas, lightly spray the corn tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400ºF for about 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy (you can also fry them in oil, 20-40 seconds on each side). You can also use pre-made tostada shells.
Place a tostada on a plate, and spread with sour cream (or guacamole if you're feeling daring).
Top the sour cream with lettuce, followed by the chicken mixture, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Enjoy!