Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  Last year we made Skirt Steak Fajitas with Lime and Pepper and Chili-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail.  This year we were a little less ambitious.  I wanted to make something a little different, so I originally wanted to make enchiladas, but then I changed my mind and we made tostadas instead.  I originally planned on making tres leches cake as well as these tostadas, but by the time I got out of work it was too late to swing by the grocery store to pick up all of the ingredients.  Plus the cake is better the next day.  The recipe I want to make for Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche actually requires baking and soaking overnight (which a lot of other tres leches recipes also require).  If we have time this weekend I will bake the cake.  If not, I will leave it for another occasion.

There's a great little hole in the wall restaurant called The Great Burrito near our apartment that does a mean pork tinga.  Before dining at that restaurant I had never heard of tinga of any sort.  It turns out tinga is a typical Mexican stew-like dish from Puebla that can be made with chicken, pork, or beef.  At The Great Burrito you can get pork tinga as a topping for your tacos, tostadas, or nachos, as a filling for burritos, etc.  The pork tinga from The Great Burrito gave me the idea for these tostadas.  We didn't have pork, but we had plenty of chicken in the freezer.  So I went ahead and adapted a variety of recipes that I found on the internet to make our chicken tinga.  I was pretty excited about how the recipe turned out given I really had no idea what I was doing.  The chicken had a pretty intense flavor and a respectable kick after being tossed and simmered in the chipotle and fire-roasted tomato mixture.  Poaching the chicken left it pretty moist and made it a blank canvas to absorb the flavors of the sauce.  When I first tasted the chicken it was lacking some of the sweetness that I remembered from the version at The Great Burrito, so to make it all a little sweeter (and to loosen up the sauce a little) I added some apple cider.  I really like this method of baking the corn tortillas to make tostadas in the oven because they are far less greasy this way and more evenly cooked than if you pan fry them.  So when you put it all together you get a crunchy tostada topped with smokey/slightly spicy chicken, creamy queso fresco and avocados to cut through the assertive flavors of the sauce, garnished with a squirt of fresh lime juice and cilantro.  It's quite tasty.  Don't omit the lime juice because I think the dish needs a bit of acidity and that bright lime flavor to really bring it all together.  I hope that everyone's Cinco de Mayo meal was as yummy as ours!

Recipe after the jump!

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

2 bone-in chicken breast halves, skin removed
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, cut in half
1 clove garlic
kosher salt
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 chipotles in adobo, chopped
1 tsp adobo sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider
6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup queso fresco, grated
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
lime wedges, for garnish

Place the chicken in a large pot filled with enough water to just cover the chicken. Add bay, onion, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken stand in the cooking liquid until just warm.  Allow chicken to cool until it can be handled.  Shred the meat.
In a large skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, chipotles, adobo sauce and vinegar. Simmer, stirring regularly until quite thick, about 30 minutes. Stir in the chicken and apple cider, simmer for 2-3 more minutes, until chicken is warmed through, then remove from heat.  Taste and season to taste with salt.  As the chicken mixture cools it will thicken slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray tortillas lightly on both sides with Pam or other non-stick cooking spray.  Bake tortillas on rimmed baking sheets, flipping once, until crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Serve chicken on top of tostadas.  Garnish with cheese, avocados, and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.

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