Show me the
MONEY MEXICAN food! I swear, there is none in this town. Not Mexican, not tex-mex, not Baja style, nothing, nada. Okay OK there is a place that is calling itself Mexicana – but its a joke, and there is another place that’s technically a bar and happens to serve a few decent dishes – but those are hit or miss. Besides those slim pickins I am left all alone in a barren Mexican food-less place, forced to walk aimlessly in circles, mumbling to myself about tacos hoping someone will hear me…taco, taco, fish taco, chicken taco, cactus taco, salsa, salsa verde, taco, taco, taco, taco, taco…. (thats me trailing off in my mind)
When I left NY a few years ago the taco ‘craze’ had taken off in a real way. Taco trucks had popped up in Williamsburg, at the Brooklyn Flea, in SOHO even (!), people were obsessing over them and I was one of those obsessors. It took me a week of living in Tel Aviv to realize that I would be without tacos for awhile – which led me to all sorts of ideas of opening up my own taco stand, truck, hole in the wall eatery. I mean, clearly there is a niche that needs filling here people! Alas (such is life), I carried on with other ventures and my little taco dream started to dwindle. But it didn’t mean that the voices in my head have stopped carrying on about tacos. So when I crave those flavors, which is quite often, I satisfy them in the comfort of my home.
LUCKILY and for the sake of all things smoky they’ve started importing chipotle peppers to Israel.
Sadly I’ve never been to Mexico. So the food I’m cooking is based on whatever cuisine I was exposed to in NY. Perhaps this has skewed my version in one way or another – but it’s better than nothing and it’s tasty to boot!
Chicken Tinga (Tinga de Pollo) *feeds 5-7 depending on how much other stuff you cram in
3 skinless chicken breasts
for the paste:
5 chipotle peppers
1 juice of an orange
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 onion chopped
for the sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil (multiple uses)
1 onion sliced
1/2 head of garlic
3 -4 big tomatoes chopped up
1 roasted red pepper chopped
1 cup of coke (!!) save the rest to drink with your tinga, goes down real smooth
3/4 tablespoon cumin
3/4 tablespoon paprika
paste (see above)
Preheat oven to 325 F
Blend the ingredients for the paste in a blender until smooth.
Heat some olive oil in a big ol’ sauce pan, cook the onions until translucent, add garlic and and cook until you smell it (1 minute). Toss in chopped tomatoes and smush around until the juices are cooked out a bit (5 minutes tops). Add roasted red pepper.
Stir in the coke, take a swig from the coke to make sure it’s good. Add in your paste.
Sprinkle in all of your spices and salt and pepper. Let the whole mess cook for a few minutes on medium low/low heat.
Heat an oven safe pot, dutch oven, something big enough to contain your sauce. Add some olive oil and cook your chicken breasts whole over medium heat. Leave them in the pan until they have unstuck them selves from the bottom, then flip for a few more minutes. This part is not rocket science, you just want to give them a head start on cooking. I cooked them a few minutes on each side.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and place your oven safe pot in the oven with the lid on. Cook for 25 minutes. Take the lid off and cook another 20 mintues.
Meanwhile chop all the rest of your goodies, I had some cabbage, radishes, avocados and cilantro. Which are all perfect accompaniments. I also threw together a little white sauce (yogurt, mayo, cumin, lemon) to drizzle on top. Do this too if you have time.
Remove your bubbling pot of red delight from the oven. Carefully remove your chicken breasts, place them in a bowl and shred them. I use two forks to keep my fingers safe, but you can also let them cool a little and use whatever method you are comfortable with.
Add some sauce to the now shredded chicken. (if you have leftover sauce, which I did – use it on everything.) There are no real tortillas to speak of here, so i am forced to deal with these giant sandwich wrap flour things. Use whatever YOU lucky people can get a hold of. Top your tortilla with everything and scarf down, the juices will drip so be sure to have plenty of napkins around.