It’s Taco Wednesday over here. Why should taco days be restricted to only Tuesdays?
There is so much flavor packed into these tacos. Beer-braised, tender shredded meat, coated in a thick, spicy red sauce with all the fixins’. Use dark meat for more flavor and forgiveness during the long cook, or breasts if you’re a breast person (I won’t judge). You may need to adjust the recipe a bit for breasts, as the cooking time will likely be longer. I was watching America’s Test Kitchen one day and this recipe caught my attention and I had to go make it ASAP. I don’t really remember why…maybe because it reminded me a little of my favorite tacos from a local restaurant, maybe just because TACOS in general. Who knows anymore, but I didn’t regret it.
Side note: I’m so excited because this is the last of my so-so photographs (I hope you agree!). Because I work quite a bit ahead to have a pile of recipes and pictures ready to go, sometimes what you’re seeing today is something I created weeks ago or possibly even longer. I’ve been super-focused on improving my food styling and photography and the improvements are noticeable. I can’t wait for you to see!
Beer-Braised Chicken Tinga Tacos
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup light beer (pale ale, pilsner, etc.)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons chipotle puree or minced chipotles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
FOR THE CHIPOTLE-LIME CREMA:
3/4 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chipotle puree, plus more to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt, to taste
FOR THE TACOS:
6-inch corn or flour tortillas, warmed
Avocado, halved, pitted and cut into small pieces
Crumbled Cotija cheese
Green onions, sliced on the diagonal
Picked cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced jalapeno
Thinly sliced radishes
Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; when hot, brown half of the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the sliced onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and light golden in color, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and cinnamon and allow to bloom in the oil for about 1 minute more. Add the beer and bring to a boil, using the back of a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock, chipotle puree, and brown sugar, stirring to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil and return the chicken to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the chicken once to ensure both sides are covered in sauce. The meat should register 165° for breasts and 195° for thighs when done. Remove the chicken to a bowl. Transfer the cooking liquid to a blender and process until smooth, about 15 to 30 seconds. Return the liquid to the pot.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred using your hands or two forks. Return the meat to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and coats the meat. Stir in the lime zest and juice.
For the Chipotle-Lime Crema: mix all of the ingredients to combine. To serve, spoon some of the chicken and sauce onto the center of a tortilla. Top with any or all of the accoutrements.
Inspiration: Shredded Chicken Tacos (Tinga de Pollo) on americastestkitchen.com