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Mexico’s Grassroots Insurrection

Chiken Tinga

By Tim Hazell

Cultural Perspectives

San Miguel de Allende has been known by various names since the Spanish founded the settlement early in the 16th century. Guamare inhabitants of the region called it Izcuinapan (place of dogs). The Spanish renamed it San Miguel el Grande. The town was officially relocated in 1555 as a mission and military outpost. It became San Miguel de Allende in 1826 to honor its native son, Ignacio Allende, a founding father of the Mexican Independence movement.

Hidalgo’s call to mestizos, indians, and other members of the lower classes to recover appropriated lands was a radical departure from the original plot devised by a group of elite criollo intellectuals and activists. This ethnic and class struggle, initiated September 16, 1810, began one of the first great 19th century wars of decolonization. Indians were fighting for the preservation of their rural communities. Hidalgo’s mandate was to reestablish native rights. He was captured and executed in July, 1811.  Hopes for autonomy were dashed when Fernando VII was restored to power by the British in 1814. Bloody repression followed as Spanish colonial authorities took revenge on their opponents. Independence was proclaimed in order to prevent further upheaval. Mexico was designated a constitutional monarchy, led by Agustin Iturbide, on July 25, 1822.

Chicken Tinga

Serves 4-6


3 tbsp. oil

1/2 onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

8 Mexican Roma tomatoes, rinsed

1/4 lb. Mexican green tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1-1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. adobado sauce from canned chipotle chiles

1 whole canned chipotle chile

5 cups pre-cooked shredded chicken

To Serve

Commercial corn tostadas

Canned refried beans

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Crumbled queso ranchero

3 Sliced avocados


Place tomatoes and tomatillos in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes and tomatillos are thoroughly cooked but not falling apart. Remove with a slotted spoon, place in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Heat oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about five to six minutes. Add garlic and cook until the onion and garlic mixture becomes fragrant and lightly browned. Pour the tomato/tomatillo sauce on top. Add oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt, black pepper, and chile adobo sauce, plus the whole canned chipotle chile. Simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally until sauce deepens to a rich red color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove or incorporate whole chile.

Fold shredded chicken into the sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken has absorbed almost all of the juices and the mixture is moist but not juicy.

To assemble, spread refried beans on a tostada, add the chicken tinga mixture, and top with shredded lettuce, avocado slices, and crumbled cheese. Serve with optional cream and green rice or salsa on the side.


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