Southern California native Anthony Lamas didn’t leave his Mexican-American roots behind when he moved to Louisville, Ky., to open a restaurant. The chef/owner of Seviche has released his first cookbook, “Southern Heat: New Southern Cooking Latin Style” (Taunton Press, $35), which explains the many ways he combines cuisines.
Instead of using pulled or shredded chicken for this tinga, Lamas uses brined bone-in chicken topped with a sauce made with puréed chipotle chile in adobo and lots of garlic. This method is good for cooks serving a crowd of people with different tolerances for heat: For the spice-averse, just serve with less sauce.
The author recommends puréeing a whole can of chipotles in adobo and then freezing the purée in ice cube trays or small zip-top plastic bags. This way, you will have prepared purée in your freezer next time a recipe calls for the ingredient. The frozen chipotle purée will last for at least six months.
For the brine:
8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
Peeled zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped celery
Four 10- to 12-ounce airline-cut chicken breasts, or regular bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, chilled
For the tinga:
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium Spanish onion, cut into julienne
7 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo purée
1 quart organic or homemade chicken stock
Juice of 1 1/2 limes, divided
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups whole crushed tomatoes
Four 6-inch corn tostadas
2 cups hot, prepared long-grain white rice
3/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Combine all the brine ingredients (through the celery) together in a nonreactive medium stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat, let cool and then refrigerate until chilled. Add the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate overnight. After 18-24 hours, remove the chicken from the brine (do not rinse) and pat dry with paper towels.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic; stir and continue to cook for another minute. You don’t want to brown the vegetables, just soften them. Add the chipotle purée, chicken stock, juice of 1 lime, salt and tomatoes; stir to combine and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large ovenproof sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chicken breasts and cook, skin side down, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the skin has a nice sear. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken to the other side, return to the oven and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (use an instant-read thermometer to check). Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining lime juice to the sauce and rewarm if necessary. For each serving, place a corn tostada in the middle of a serving plate and top with 1/2 cup hot rice. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of the grated Manchego and then place a chicken breast on top of the rice and cheese. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the sauce, or more to taste, over the chicken. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serves 4.
— From “Southern Heat: New Southern Cooking Latin Style” by Anthony Lamas and Gwen Pratesi (Taunton Press, $35)