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Cooking In: Chicken Tinga Tacos, courtesy chef Manu Alfau

During these crazy times, making a home-cooked meal can be cathartic. But if you're like me, you can find yourself in a rut, making the same things over and over again. That's why I enlisted the help of my chef friends from all over the Seattle area. I got each one to send me an easy-to-follow recipe folks can make at home using pantry staples or ingredients that are usually readily available at your local grocery store. It's a weekly series we're calling Cooking In. Interested in other recipes? We've also tried making Gravy's light, flavorful shrimp fettuccine, Tilth's roasted asparagus with poached eggs, mushrooms and buttered breadcrumbs, Ba Sa's scrumptious shrimp toast, John Sundstrom's delectable rhubarb crisp, the Woodmark Hotel's signature granola, Ethan Stowell's famous rigatoni and Spark Pizza's incredible, yup, you guessed it, pizza.

Taco night is a staple at my house, but often we find ourselves making the same old recipe, one that usually involves ground beef and a store-bought seasoning packet. So I called on chef Manu Alfau to help me kick taco night up a notch, and he came through with his recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos.

Manu is the chef and owner of Manu's Bodega and Manu's Tacos, both located in pioneer square. At Manu's Bodega, the menu is loaded with fresh Latin American flavors, with a focus on empanadas, sandwiches and bowls. Manu's Taco's focuses on street tacos, burritos and housemate salsas, all served out of a takeout window. Folks can stop by for a grab-and-go lunch Monday-Friday or order online for pickup or delivery. Of course, these Chicken Tinga Tacos are a staple on the menu.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 4ea skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 4 ea chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 ea yellow onion minced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chiffonade
  • 1 yellow onion julienne for sauce
  • 2ea garlic cloves minced
  • 4ea roma tomatoes quartered
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 1ea bay leaf
  • 1 pack 4 inch corn tortillas (you may use flour if preferred)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 limes quartered

Preparation:

  1. Place the chicken in a medium to large sauce pot and cover with water. Season with salt liberally. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down to a simmer and skim off any scum from the top. Let simmer for about 12-15 min. Remove chicken from broth and place on a plate to cool. Turn off heat and reserve broth.
  2. Use a blender to make the sauce. Add the garlic cloves, cumin, chipotle chiles in adobo, quartered tomato, and a ladle of chicken broth you reserved. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Using two forks, shred the chicken and set aside.
  4. In a saute pan, add a tablespoon of oil and add the julienned onion. Cook for about 5 min until translucent. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook for another 10 min or so until the mixture has thickened.
  5. In another saute pan or griddle, heat the tortillas with a splash of oil. When they are soft transfer them to a clean dish towel to wrap and keep hot.
  6. At this point, scoop a bit of the chicken mixture into the tortillas to make the tacos. Top with the chopped cilantro and onion. Garnish with lime on the side.

Tips
This sauce freezes well. Once the chicken is added, it can be cooled and packed into ziploc bags. Consider using two corn tortillas per taco, to keep them from falling apart.


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