Let the photo set the scene; Father’s Day, Pineapple Margaritas made with reposado tequila and chipotle-chicken tinga served with tostadas, guacamole, and limes. This is the second Mexican feast we’ve had at the Cory house this year and I’m hoping that my experiments will become less of a special occasion and more of a weekly occurrence. I was sent a package of dried chillies of all varieties from the gang at MexTrade UK, but it was the tiny tins of chipotle chillies adobo that they threw in that I started with.
I’ve never cooked with chipotles before and I don’t know why they haven’t become a more popular feature here as they are in the States. The heat is like a warm glow that surrounds your mouth and jaw and it makes you feel like everything is alright (or maybe that was the tequila). The gentle but insistent warmth of this dish is perfect for those who love spice but don’t enjoy getting their taste buds decimated in the process. This recipe is easy and perfect for anyone looking to expand their repertoire and eat authentic Mexican that doesn’t come from a packet.
I found out recently that it was The Year of Mexico in The United Kingdom, and it makes sense with all the buzz surrounding Mexican food lately. With a mission to promote better understanding between Britain and Mexico, the initiative is rolling out a bunch of arts, food and science events throughout the year and I am really excited about this, because I love the Mexican culture and I would love to find out more about their food and music in particular.
I have horrible memories of drinking too much cheap tequila as a young woman and I’ve avoided it ever since. But for Father’s Day, I bought AT a bottle of El Jimador Reposado. When you’re buying tequila always look for the 100% blue agave on the label. This is the most important factor. The clear tequila is called ‘silver’ and the amber coloured variety is called ‘reposado’ which means that the tequila has been aged in barrels, quite often old whisky barrels – and this gives the liquid a golden hue.
I also learned from an excellent article on the Mextrade UK website and from my own experience, that dried chillies are not hot. They are warm and give you what I’d call a pleasant glowing tingle in your mouth. For this traditional Mexican dish called chicken tinga – I used the tinned adobo chipotle chilli. Chipotles are actually jalapenos left to ripen until they are dark red and ‘adobo’ is the word used for the process of turning a raw ingredient, like a chilli, into a concentrated paste using paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar to preserve and enhance its flavour.
Here’s another tid-bit, tortillas are supposed to be made with corn flour, not wheat flour. I noticed that most grocery stores have mostly wheat flour tortillas in their selection, but I managed to find one packet of Old El Paso corn tortillas which we in the west use mainly for burritos. To make your own tostadas – which are far superior to pre-toasted ones – simply let your corn tortillas go stale (leave them out of their packaging for a day), and then fry them in oil until they’re crispy. They won’t have the texture and crunch factor of the taco, but rather a softer crunch with much more flavour.
I got my recipe from a terrific Mexican food blog called Mexico in My Kitchen where school teacher Mely Martinez shares recipes she cooks at home for her sons.
Chicken Tinga Recipe
1 onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups of chopped tomatoes (you could probably use tinned tomatoes)
1 small can of chipotle adobo, chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
1 whole cooked chicken, picked (you can buy a BBQ chicken, or roast your own that’s been rubbed down with a bit of the chipotle!)
Parsley, salt, pepper to garnish
In a sauce pan, saute the onion, garlic and chipotles in some olive oil.
Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley and lower the heat. Cook out till the tomatoes release their juices, about 7 minutes.
Add the chicken and simmer for about ten minutes, add some water if necessary to keep the stew wet but not watery.
Serve with tortillas, tacos or tostadas, and lots of garnishes like corn succotash, fresh lime, crisp iceberg lettuce, guacamole and salsa.