Recipe of the Week: A Louisville spin on Chicken Tinga

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This chicken tinga recipe from “Southern Heat” by Anthony Lamas calls for airline chicken breasts, which still have part of the wing attached. Photo by Roger Pratesi.
This chicken tinga recipe from “Southern Heat” by Anthony Lamas calls for airline chicken breasts, which still have part of the wing attached. Photo by Roger Pratesi.

This chicken tinga recipe from “Southern Heat” by Anthony Lamas calls for airline chicken breasts, which still have part of the wing attached. Photo by Roger Pratesi.

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.

Chicken Tinga

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
For serving:
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)


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