Recipe: <i>Tinga de pollo</i> (chicken in chipotle-tomato sauce)

The tinga de pollo, or chicken in a chiptle-tomato sauce, is enhanced by using chipotles in a spicy-sweet pilocillo adobo.
The tinga de pollo, or chicken in a chiptle-tomato sauce, is enhanced by using chipotles in a spicy-sweet pilocillo adobo.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Total time:

1 hour, 15 minutes, plus cooling time

Servings: 12 tostadas

Note: In Mexico City, you can find chipotles in a spicy-sweet piloncillo adobo, which is what I used here. If you’re using a different variety, start with one teaspoon and work your way up. Before serving, soak the thin white onion slices in cold water at least 15 minutes.

1 pound chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed


1 bay leaf

1 small unpeeled clove garlic, plus 1 clove minced garlic, divided

1/4 small white onion, plus 1 cup chopped white onion, divided, plus thin white onion slices for serving

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored, seeded and chopped

4 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo (see note), plus more adobo sauce for serving

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/2 cup chicken broth



12 packaged tostadas, or corn tortillas cooked until crisp on a comal

1 cup Mexican crema

1 avocado, sliced into slivers


1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

1. In a large saucepan, place the chicken breasts and add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaf, unpeeled garlic clove and small chunk of onion and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Set the pan aside until the chicken has cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl, and set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat with your fingers or a fork.

2. In a skillet heated over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until aromatic, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the tomato, cooking until pieces break down and become a thick, chunky paste, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the shredded chicken, then add the chipotle, oregano and chicken broth, and season with three-fourths teaspoon salt, or to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 10 minutes to thicken slightly and marry the flavors. Taste, and add more salt if desired. This makes about 2 cups of tinga de pollo.


4. To serve the tostadas, slather a thin layer of crema on each tortilla. (For more amped-up chipotle flavor, mix a little of the adobo sauce in the crema.) Add a few spoonfuls of tinga, the slices of white onion and two slivers of avocado. Top with crumbled cotija cheese.

Each of 12 tostadas: 181 calories; 9 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 27 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 272 mg sodium.