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In my effort to eat healthy during the week, I’ve exhausted myself eating Asian dishes. Mexican dishes have a bad reputation of being greasy and unhealthy, but through a quick search through food and wines 30 day healthy meal menu, I found a delicious sounding chicken taco that was also very low in calories.

Tinga is a Mexican dish composed of stewed shredded meat, either chicken or beef, cooked in a chipotle based sauce. Canned chipotles is something I always have in my pantry. It’s cheap, stays good for a long time, and it lends very complex flavors to simple dishes: smoky, spicy, wholesome.

The chicken used in this dish are skinned, trimmed bone-in chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are cheap, and once you get rid of the skin, they actually are almost just as healthy as chicken breasts, but way more flavorful. The first step is to skin the thighs and trim as much fat as you can from the meat. You may be able to find already skinned chicken thighs at some super markets.

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Season the thighs with salt and pepper, and brown over medium high heat in a heavy pot with a couple of tablespoon of olive oil.

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Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. The chicken should not be cooked through at this point. In the same pot, add sliced onions and garlic and cook until browned.

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Add the canned chipotle peppers, canned diced tomatoes, and chicken broth, simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes.

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Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and let cool a bit. Process the sauce until smooth.

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Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish, pour the chipotle tomato sauce over, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30- 45 minutes.

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When the chicken is done, remove the baking dish from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, shred the meat and return to the sauce, discarding the bones in the process.

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Be careful not to touch your eyes after shredding the chicken even after you wash your hands, as the chipotle peppers stay on your hands for a while. Serve the chicken with corn tortillas ( only 40 calories per 5 inch tortilla), cilantro sprigs, and a little queso blanco.

To go with the chicken tinga tacos, I made a grilled corn salad with shallots, cilantro, and Serrano peppers. I did not have red onion or jalapeño on hand, which were apart of the original recipe, so I substituted with what I had in my kitchen.

To make this salad, brush fresh corn cobs with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the corn, or cook in a heavy pan, over medium high heat until cooked through and parts of the corn become charred, about 12 minutes total.

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Meanwhile, combine the lime juice and sliced red onion or in my case, shallots, and let sit for 10 minutes. The shallots will soften slightly.

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Cut the corn kernels from the cob and move them to a large bowl. Toss in the lime juice and shallots, along with thinly sliced Serrano or jalapeño peppers, and fold in cilantro leaves.

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Season with salt and pepper and you have a fresh and crisp salad to go with those fiery tacos.

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Chicken Tinga Tacos
Charred Corn Salad with Cilantro and Mint

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