January 29, 2017
I’ve been on a real Mexican food streak. Last week I made tostadas with refried beans. The beans were promising but I knew they could be better. That gave the impetus to try another Mexican dish so I could have refried beans as a side dish. The main dish was Chicken Tinga from Serious Eats. This is a pretty straight forward recipe without a lot of ingredients or steps. That dark container on the bottom left is Chipotle en Adobo – jalapeños that have been processed to result in a smoky, hot flavorful spice. Most recipes only call for 1 or two of the chiles, so I put the rest in a covered glass container for a few weeks for use in another dish.
I don’t have a personal copy of this recipe because I cooked it directly as written.
Chop and measure stuff. Not only do we use two of the jalapeños, we use 2 Tablespoons of the sauce. This dish is going to be spicy.
The next step is to salt and sauté the chicken in a dutch oven. After browning, remove the chicken and sauté the onion and garlic in the fat; add the roughly chopped tomatillo and cook it down as well. Bloom the oregano and cumin then toss in the chipotle en adobo, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, chicken broth and bay leaf.
The recipe calls for smoothing the sauce in a blender. I used an immersion blender trying to save cleaning but it took a while to get it smooth that way. When it boils place the chicken in the sauce and cook until the chicken thighs are 165° in the thickest part. I figured 15-20 minutes but the largest thigh took almost 30 minutes even with the lid on the last 10 minutes. By that time the sauce had reduced too much. I think the problem was the pot was too big for the amount of chicken and sauce; the thighs were only half submerged. If I make this again I’ll use a sauté pan for the chicken and a large, but not huge, pot for the sauce and simmering.
As I started the chicken tinga, I popped the beans into pressure cooker (I soaked the beans in salt water overnight this time.)
For a fuller description of cooking the beans you can read last week’s post. I improved by
- Soaking/brining the beans overnight
- Substituting half the water with homemade chicken stock
- Adding 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
Drain the beans reserving the bean broth. Sauté the onion and jalapeño in 4 Tablespoons lard then toss in the beans and cook a few minutes.
Add 1 cup of the broth and mash the beans up.If you like your beans mash with a potato masher. I like them creamier, so I poured the bean mixture into a large bowl, added the broth to blend with an immersion blender; then the mixture back into the pan and cook until the desired consistency is achieved. If they are too dry, add a Tablespoon of water at a time. Too wet? Cook some more and they’ll dry up a bit.
The beans were glorious. This is my new standard for refried beans. I’ve updated the recipe which you can find here. If you want pinto beans straight-up with no mashing, try this recipe.
To finish the tinga, remove the chicken from the pot, shred and put the pieces back in the sauce until warmed through. To serve, I dipped corn tortillas in a bowl of water and then cooked in a non-stick skillet until dry and starting to toast up, turning once.
Dinner is served
The tacos were good – with a nice spicy sauce; perhaps I was too focused on my bean project to really appreciate them.
Chicken tinga tacos: ★★★