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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: Trendy quesatacos, filled with chicken tinga, are crispy, juicy, messy, a little hot, and delicious

Chicken Tinga Quesatacos
Chicken Tinga QuesatacosKaroline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe

Serves 6

Trendy quesatacos are exactly what they sound like: A cross between a quesadilla and a taco. Fried tortillas are topped with ample melted cheese and then folded over what’s generally a stewy Mexican dish called birria (made with beef, goat, or lamb), giving the whole thing a kind of crispy, stuffed grilled cheese feel. In this version, the filling is chicken tinga, a lighter, quicker option with a little heat that begins with jalapenos, chipotle peppers, and tomatoes, which is used to cook chicken breasts. When they're done and cool enough to handle, you shred the meat and return it to the pan. The quesataco assembly can be sort of tricky since there are a lot of moving parts. Have everything ready before you get started. You’ll need an ample pour of canola oil with each batch of tortillas as the goal is to have a crispy fried shell. Flip the tortillas after they have browned on one side and then melt Monterey Jack on each one. Top the cheese with chicken tinga, cilantro, raw onions, and a spritz of lime before folding the whole thing into a taco and flipping it to finish cooking. Keep each batch warm in the oven while you assemble the rest. Use a slotted spoon to add the chicken to the rounds so you can save the cooking juices to serve as a dipping sauce. Cooking and eating this meal is a messy endeavor, but worth it.

1cup canola oil
1large yellow onion, sliced
1 jalapeno or other small green chile pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or more to taste
1can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1cup water
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds total)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
18small corn tortillas
cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ sweet onion (Vidalia, OSO Sweet, Maui), finely chopped
1cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 limes, quartered

1. Have on hand a heavy-based flameproof casserole, a 12-inch skillet, and a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.

2. In the flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the yellow onion, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic, and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes more.

3. Add the chipotle peppers (add 3 if you want a spicier sauce), tomatoes, and water. Bring the liquid to a boil.

4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and nestle the breasts in the cooking liquid, skin side up. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees. With tongs or a large slotted spoon, transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board.

5. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. With a fork, shred the chicken and discard the bones. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

6. Set the oven at 200 degrees.

7. In the skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 2 tablespoons canola oil until hot. Place 3 tortillas in the skillet and cook for 1 minute, or until they are golden. Turn them over. Add about 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese to each tortilla. When the cheese melts use a large slotted spoon to place about 1/3 cup chicken tinga on each tortilla, leaving the juices in the pan. Top with a sprinkle of chopped sweet onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Fold each tortilla in half to form a half moon. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until both sides are golden brown and the filling is hot. Transfer to the wire rack and keep warm in the oven. Repeat 5 more times until all of the tortillas have been filled and cooked.

8. Garnish the quesatacos with any remaining cilantro and onions. Serve with the chicken cooking juices for dipping.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Serves 6

Trendy quesatacos are exactly what they sound like: A cross between a quesadilla and a taco. Fried tortillas are topped with ample melted cheese and then folded over what’s generally a stewy Mexican dish called birria (made with beef, goat, or lamb), giving the whole thing a kind of crispy, stuffed grilled cheese feel. In this version, the filling is chicken tinga, a lighter, quicker option with a little heat that begins with jalapenos, chipotle peppers, and tomatoes, which is used to cook chicken breasts. When they're done and cool enough to handle, you shred the meat and return it to the pan. The quesataco assembly can be sort of tricky since there are a lot of moving parts. Have everything ready before you get started. You’ll need an ample pour of canola oil with each batch of tortillas as the goal is to have a crispy fried shell. Flip the tortillas after they have browned on one side and then melt Monterey Jack on each one. Top the cheese with chicken tinga, cilantro, raw onions, and a spritz of lime before folding the whole thing into a taco and flipping it to finish cooking. Keep each batch warm in the oven while you assemble the rest. Use a slotted spoon to add the chicken to the rounds so you can save the cooking juices to serve as a dipping sauce. Cooking and eating this meal is a messy endeavor, but worth it.

1cup canola oil
1large yellow onion, sliced
1 jalapeno or other small green chile pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or more to taste
1can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1cup water
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds total)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
18small corn tortillas
cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ sweet onion (Vidalia, OSO Sweet, Maui), finely chopped
1cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 limes, quartered

1. Have on hand a heavy-based flameproof casserole, a 12-inch skillet, and a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.

2. In the flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the yellow onion, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic, and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes more.

3. Add the chipotle peppers (add 3 if you want a spicier sauce), tomatoes, and water. Bring the liquid to a boil.

4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and nestle the breasts in the cooking liquid, skin side up. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees. With tongs or a large slotted spoon, transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board.

5. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. With a fork, shred the chicken and discard the bones. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

6. Set the oven at 200 degrees.

7. In the skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 2 tablespoons canola oil until hot. Place 3 tortillas in the skillet and cook for 1 minute, or until they are golden. Turn them over. Add about 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese to each tortilla. When the cheese melts use a large slotted spoon to place about 1/3 cup chicken tinga on each tortilla, leaving the juices in the pan. Top with a sprinkle of chopped sweet onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Fold each tortilla in half to form a half moon. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until both sides are golden brown and the filling is hot. Transfer to the wire rack and keep warm in the oven. Repeat 5 more times until all of the tortillas have been filled and cooked.

8. Garnish the quesatacos with any remaining cilantro and onions. Serve with the chicken cooking juices for dipping.Karoline Boehm Goodnick