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Tinga de pollo (chicken in chipotle-tomato sauce)

Tinga de pollo (chicken in chipotle-tomato sauce)
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

When I was a kid growing up in the Inland Empire, my idea of Mexican comfort food was a flour tortilla plucked from a plastic bag, lined with one square of American cheese and zapped until bubbly in the microwave. ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus cooling time | Makes 12 tostadas
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small unpeeled clove garlic plus 1 clove minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 small white onion plus 1 cup chopped white onion, divided, plus thin white onion slices for serving
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored, seeded and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo (see note), plus more adobo sauce for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt
  • 12 packaged tostadas, or corn tortillas cooked until crisp on a comal
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 avocado, sliced into slivers
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

Step 1In a large saucepan, place the chicken breasts and add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaf, unpeeled garlic clove and small chunk of onion and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Set the pan aside until the chicken has cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl, and set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat with your fingers or a fork.

Step 2In a skillet heated over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until aromatic, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the tomato, cooking until pieces break down and become a thick, chunky paste, about 5 minutes.

Step 3Stir in the shredded chicken, then add the chipotle, oregano and chicken broth, and season with three-fourths teaspoon salt, or to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 10 minutes to thicken slightly and marry the flavors. Taste, and add more salt if desired. This makes about 2 cups of tinga de pollo.

Step 4To serve the tostadas, slather a thin layer of crema on each tortilla. (For more amped-up chipotle flavor, mix a little of the adobo sauce in the crema.) Add a few spoonfuls of tinga, the slices of white onion and two slivers of avocado. Top with crumbled cotija cheese.

Note: In Mexico City, you can find chipotles in a spicy-sweet piloncillo adobo, which is what I used here. If you're using a different variety, start with one teaspoon and work your way up. Before serving, soak the thin white onion slices in cold water at least 15 minutes.

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