Home Video Mexican-inspired dishes to chase away winter’s chill – The Boston Globe

Mexican-inspired dishes to chase away winter’s chill – The Boston Globe

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Mexican-inspired dishes to chase away winter’s chill – The Boston Globe

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Makes 4 servings

Chicken tinga, or tinga poblana de pollo, is a stewy dish of shredded chicken in a light, fresh tomato sauce that’s spicy and smoky with chipotle chilies. It’s an excellent filling for tacos or topping for tostadas. In our version, based on the recipe we learned in Mexico, we poach chicken breasts, shred the meat into bite-size pieces, then add it to a tomato-chipotle sauce, which has been simmered separately.

Mexican oregano, with its notes of citrus and earth, is more closely related to verbena than to Mediterranean oregano, which is in the mint family. Many supermarkets sell Mexican oregano; if it’s not shelved with the jarred herbs and spices, check the international aisle or where dried Mexican chilies are sold. If you can’t find it, substitute an equal amount of dried marjoram.

Make sure to promptly remove the chicken breasts from the poaching liquid as soon as they are cooked through — they should not be allowed to boil. White meat is lean and delicate and becomes dry and tough if boiled vigorously or cooked past 160 degrees.

1½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced, divided

6 medium garlic cloves, minced, divided

2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons neutral oil

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (see headnote)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 bunch cilantro, chopped, stems and leaves reserved separately

2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

½ teaspoon packed light brown sugar

In a large saucepan, combine 7 cups water, the chicken, a quarter of the onion, half the garlic, the carrots, bay, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer over heat set on medium-high, then reduce to low, cover, and cook at a bare simmer. Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout and the thickest part registers 160 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes; flip the breasts once about halfway through.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside to cool. Strain enough of the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer to yield 1 cup; discard the remainder. Using 2 forks or your hands, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones.

In a 12-inch skillet set over medium heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the remaining onion, remaining garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion has wilted, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, and cilantro stems, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, tomatoes, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is slightly thickened and clings to the skillet, 5 to 8 minutes.

Stir in the shredded chicken, reduce to medium-low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce clings to the meat, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cilantro leaves.


Mexican Stewed Beans With Salsa FrescaphotographS by Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Mexican Stewed Beans With Salsa Fresca

Makes 6 to 8 servings

In Mexico City, we were taught how to prepare traditional stewed beans by chef Eduardo García of Máximo Bistrot. Sofrito — a sauté of aromatics cooked separately from a dish’s central ingredients — is a key flavoring for the beans. Our sofrito consists of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and jalapeños cooked down to concentrate their essences and is added only after the beans are fully tender, to preserve its fresh flavors.

Instead of the pinto beans so common in Mexican cuisine, we opted to use cranberry beans (also called Roman or borlotti beans). We found that the pinto beans available in the United States do not cook up with the same plumpness and velvety texture as the ones we tasted in Mexico; cranberry beans were a closer approximation. Though tan in color with speckles of red, cooked cranberry beans resemble pinkish-beige pinto beans. A fresh tomato salsa served on the side brightens and lightens the earthiness of the beans.

Be sure to soak the cranberry beans overnight, as soaked beans cook more evenly and quickly. A tablespoon of salt in the soaking water produces a creamier, more velvety texture in the cooked beans.

If you wish to make this dish with pork, see the recipe that follows; it yields a meaty broth for cooking the beans and shredded pork for stirring in at the end. The pork and broth need to be made before you begin cooking the beans, but can be made up to three days in advance.

The most efficient way to approach this multi-component recipe is to prep and cook the sofrito during the hour that the beans simmer and make the salsa while the simmered beans rest for 30 minutes.

FOR THE BEANS:

1 pound dried cranberry beans, picked over and rinsed

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lard or neutral oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 bunch cilantro, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately

1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth, pork broth (recipe follows; optional), or water

FOR THE SOFRITO:

2 tablespoons lard or neutral oil

1 large white onion, chopped

Kosher salt

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

TO SERVE:

2 cups shredded pork (recipe follows; optional)

Salsa fresca (recipe follows)

To prepare the beans, in a large bowl, combine the beans with 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt; stir to dissolve salt. Cover and soak the beans overnight at room temperature.

Drain the beans. In a large Dutch oven, heat the lard over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cilantro stems. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beans and broth, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.

While the beans cook, make the sofrito. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium heat, warm the lard until it shimmers. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and jalapeños and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have broken down, the liquid they released has cooked off, and the mixture begins to sizzle, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the beans are done, remove the pot from the heat and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes to allow the liquid to thicken slightly. Return the beans to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the sofrito and the shredded pork (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cilantro leaves. Serve with the salsa fresca on the side.

Shredded Pork and Broth

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch cubes

2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed

Kosher salt

In a large pot, combine the pork, jalapeños, 1 teaspoon salt, and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until a skewer inserted into the pork meets no resistance, 60 to 75 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a medium bowl; set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl and let cool.

When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding any fat and gristle. Cover both the broth and shredded meat and refrigerate until ready to use or up to 3 days.

Salsa Fresca

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

½ jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced

2 teaspoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

In a medium bowl, stir together the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, vinegar, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salsa to a serving bowl, leaving behind the liquid. Taste and season with salt.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.



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