The BF and I were in LA for a wedding this spring, and he spent the morning before the big ceremony getting a fancy haircut and shave with the groom, while I put on gym clothes and went for a walk “for exercise.”
But a girl can’t walk on an empty stomach, and not one but two of my friends had recommended that I hit up Guisado’s for tacos, so I stopped in for a pre-walk-for-exercise snack. I treated myself to a horchata with cold brew iced coffee (whoa, amazing) and a couple of spicy pork tacos on homemade corn tortillas, recommended by the girl behind the counter who was appropriately confused by my choice of “exercise.” The tacos were amazing, so I asked her where I should go next and she sent me over to Grand Central Market for a delicious coffee. And then the coffee guy recommended that I try pastries from Bottega Louie (where I got a truly spectacular Earl Grey macaron that inspired my own funfetti macaron project). By then, the Boyfriend was smooth-faced and smelled like aftershave and was ready for lunch. So I headed back to the hotel, changed out of my unsullied work-out clothes, and dragged my man straight back to Guisado’s.
We grabbed a couple of sampler plates for lunch — trays of mini tacos filled with all kinds of braised meats — and jeez louise, we were happy we did. My favorites from the morning were there, and they were accompanied by a couple tacos stuffed with steak and chorizo, but the standout was the chicken tinga taco — the shredded chicken was tender and cooked in a spicy, jammy dark red tomato sauce. It was smoky and just a little bit sweet, and perfect topped with avocado slices.
My love of the chicken tinga was a total surprise because I am usually more of a pork and/or beef kinda gal. (You’ll notice that the chicken taco took second-row-left behind a lusciously complex mole taco in that pic.) When we got home I went straight to the kitchen until I nailed a homemade chicken tinga recipe, which you’ll find here here, inspired by something I found from Food & Wine’s Jenn Louis.
Flashback! One year ago on Leighto-Greato: Croque Madames
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 1-1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28-oz. box of tomatoes (chopped or diced or whole, but not pureed)
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 c. chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Season raw chicken with a fat pinch of salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof dutch oven on the stove. (If you don't have a dutch oven, you can use a regular pot and move the sauce to a baking pan when it's time to go in the oven.)
- Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about three minutes each side. Don't move the chicken around -- if it's moving, it's not browning.
- Once the chicken is browned on both sides, set it aside in a bowl. Note that you're going to have to wash this bowl because the chicken is not cooked all the way through. So don't use it for serving later!
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the diced onion, stirring to scrap all the brown bits up off the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, another minute or two.
- Then add the tomatoes, peppers and chicken broth. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low again and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender. (If you don't have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool and then transfer a blender and puree until smooth.)
- Add the chicken back into the sauce, nestle down so that all the chicken is covered, and transfer to the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the sauce turns dark red and jammy around the edges, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and shred the chicken with two forks. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Serve on tortillas, in a burrito bowl, in enchiladas. or cold out of the fridge.