Mexico’s cuisine is considered one of the most distinguished in the world thanks to its large variety of dishes, the complexity of their preparation, distinctive flavors and ancient traditions.
Each state has its specialties: Puebla, in particular, is famous for its cuisine. Two dishes in particular stand out: Mole poblano and chiles en nogada, creations that reflect the mosaic of cultures that have left their legacy on the region.
There is another dish from Puebla, mucho simpler to make, but certainly a standout for its intense flavor and soft texture. I’m referring to tinga, a dish made with shredded meat, which can be chicken, beef or pork, always in a base of tomato sauce, onions, garlic and chile peppers. It’s the equivalent of what in the Caribbean would be shredded beef in tomato sauce, albeit with a distinct Mexican touch.
Don’t let the history intimidate you, tinga de pollo is made in a matter of minutes once your chicken breast is cooked, which you could do the day before. Remember, shredding meat is easier right after it is cooked.
This dish has many versions, each with the distinct personal touch of the person who makes it. I add chipotles in adobo, usually a jalapeño, that is allowed to ripen until it becomes reddish and then dried. It’s never missing from my pantry. I also add a tablespoon of jalapeño vinegar to accent the flavor and provide a little extra heat to the sauce.
Yields 4 servings
1 pound chicken breasts, cooked in salted water
2 medium yellow onions
2 tablespoons canola oil
Commercially available corn tostadas (toasted corn tortillas)
1 can refried beans
1 cup Mexican cream (crème fraîche or sour cream)
6 ounces Mexican queso fresco (queso blanco or panela)
Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
Sliced jalapeño peppers
For the sauce:
10 ripe and seeded Roma tomatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon jalapeño vinegar*
Salt and pepper to taste
* Steep chopped jalapeños and salt in boiled white vinegar for 2 hours.
1. Shred the chicken and set aside.
2. Finely slice one onion into rounds and sauté in oil on a skillet over medium heat until soft.
3. While the onion browns, dice the other onion. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, garlic, the diced onion, the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the jalapeño vinegar, and blend. Add water if necessary and season to taste.
4. Add the blended sauce to the skillet where the onion is sautéing and adjust the seasonings.
5. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and cook over low heat for approximately 20 minutes.
Spread the corn tostadas with the refried beans, then top with the shredded chicken, a bit of lettuce, cream, cheese and sliced jalapeño.
To learn more about me or my recipes, visit me at DenisseOller.com and at AARP, where I am a chef and nutrition expert.