I’m ridiculous. On Friday Matt wanted burritos, but I shot that idea down because I’d just spent 2 days this week eating my free Boloco burrito I’d spent an hour waiting in line for (they gave out free burritos when they opened). Then on Saturday he played a show – possibly my favourite show of theirs so far, definitely in the top 3, I mean there were DUELLING SANTAS – and got a burrito across the street from the venue, which I wound up eating the last quarter of for dinner because he couldn’t finish it. So that was Saturday. What did I do on Sunday night? Make burritos. Granted these weren’t like the more-or-less-regular burritos we’d had during the week. For one thing, I just didn’t have the wherewithal to make beans – the chicken is pretty involved, and I was doing rice too, so the pot was in use, and don’t laugh at me when I say the pot, we only have one that isn’t massive – and I just decided not to make beans. So no beans. And then this chicken is pretty unlike regular burrito-filling chicken – it’s coated in this delightful creamy tomato sauce (no cream involved!). I KIND of want to put this sauce on everything.
The original recipe came from The Bitten Word, where they put it in tacos, which was what I was originally trying to do until I forgot to get taco-sized tortillas and then couldn’t find them in any of the likely suspects and just really didn’t want to schlep all the way back to the supermarket (remember there’d been the show the night before, which means we didn’t get home until about 2, and I didn’t go to bed until about 2:30, and then I was up before 8 because that’s how I operate, although “operate” became an increasingly strong description for what I was doing the later it got). We had burrito-sized tortillas in the fridge. We always have burrito-sized tortillas. I made burritos.
Other changes include halving it, which still left us with plenty of leftovers (which are pretty fantastic on their own, not wrapped in anything, by the way), using my go-to extra-sharp cheddar instead of cotija cheese, not because I couldn’t find it, just because I don’t care for it that much, and I made some changes in the oil department too. First off, I had run out of olive oil, so I just used good old canola oil instead, and second of all, the original recipe has you heat some oil in the pan, cook the chicken in it, drain off all the fat, then add new oil and cook the rest of everything in that. This did not compute to me, so I just kept the existing oil and chicken grease in the pan and cooked with that the rest of the way. I’m going to say it worked.
Chicken Tinga Burritos
1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/4 lb chicken thighs – I used skinless/boneless, but use what you like, I’m sure bone-in would make the sauce that much better, and you can always just peel off the skin before getting started
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped – don’t worry about the seeds, seriously; I left them in and it was not blow-the-doors-off spicy
1/2 cup chicken broth
tortillas, cheese, and green onions for serving
salt and pepper
if you want to do the rice the same as I did, I’ll include the recipe at the bottom of the post
Over medium heat, heat the oil in a large skillet.
Salt and pepper both sides of each chicken thigh and arrange them in the pan.
Cook 6 minutes on each side, or until starting to brown. They don’t need to be cooked through since they’ll be going into the oven.
Remove the chicken to a baking dish for later.
Saute the onion in the skillet for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for another 2 minutes.
Pour in the can of tomatoes (include the juice), the stock, and the chipotle, and do any deglazing that needs to be done.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Pour the sauce mixture into a food processor and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
While it’s cooling, preheat the oven to 350.
Once the sauce mixture isn’t so hot that any little splashes would injure you, puree it until smooth.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish.
Bake for 45 minutes.
During the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking, wrap the tortillas in foil and pop them into the oven to warm up.
When the chicken’s done, shred it with 2 forks and get it all mixed in with the sauce.
Serve garnished with cheese and green onions, over rice if you’d like – the “recipe” that describes the making of mine follows.
twice as much water as rice (so if you have 1 cup rice, which is what I used and it makes plenty, you want 2 cups water)
a capful of oil
chipotle powder (I just used a little since the tinga has a chipotle in it, but if I wasn’t using the rice in this particular burrito, I’d have put more)
1 bay leaf
In a pot that has a transparent lid (important! it’s how come I’m good at cooking rice!), heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the rice and shake some of the onion powder, cumin, and chipotle powder over them. If I hadn’t been a little concerned about how spicy the chicken would be, I might have added some cayenne too. Just a bit.
Saute the rice for about 5 minutes, letting each grain get coated with the oil and go translucent-golden.
Turn the heat down to low and pour in your water.
Slap the lid on it and LEAVE IT ALONE – don’t open it or stir it, I don’t mean to get didactic but a surprising number of people want to take the lid off their rice and then how can it steam properly? – until the rice has absorbed the liquid and it has “eyes” that water is no longer bubbling out of.
Remove from the heat and fluff up with a fork.
If I wasn’t using it with a tomato-sauced chicken, I’d maybe stir a little tomato paste in at this point.