File this one under successful mistake: what happened when we screwed up a recipe but somehow ended up with a dish that was even better than the original. Because we like a good chicken and rice dish (this one is a particular favorite) and we’re fans of smoky, spicy Southwestern flavor, we figured that this recipe for chipotle chicken and rice would be a winner. So why is the title of this post “chicken tinga tacos” instead of “chipotle chicken and rice”? Because someone mistakenly used brown rice instead of white rice the first time she attempted the recipe, which meant that the dish had to cook a lot longer for the rice to be done, causing the chicken to become tender enough to shred with a spoon (and us to eat dinner about two hours late). On that night we realized that the slow-cooked chicken and rice mixture would be far better suited as a taco filling than a main course. And not just any taco filling—we accidentally created a recipe for chicken “tinga,” which generally refers to meat slowly cooked in a chipotle sauce and served shredded in a taco or on a tostada. The first night we ate our happy accident, all we could think about was how good it would be wrapped in a white corn tortilla with minced onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I will probably never be fearless in the kitchen, and my cooking will definitely never be perfect, but it’s comforting to know that sometimes it turns out that a mistake is just what the recipe needed.
One of the many things we love about New Orleans is the vibe. It’s a place where we feel like we belong, the moment our feet hit the quaint, festive, balcony-lined streets. There’s an indulgent “anything goes” atmosphere that dovetails with a welcoming spirit and sense of community—even for tourists. This shrimp dish evokes that Big Easy experience with its bold, spicy, complex flavors and communal, one-pot serving that encourages a little bit of messiness and finger-licking as you peel and eat the shrimp and dip your bread in the sauce. In our humble opinion, New Orleans is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. But if you’re not able to get there, try making a big pot of this shrimp, then eat it with your favorite person (or people) while listening to Van Morrison (or jazz, or whatever music puts you in the most relaxed, happy mood possible), and you’ll get very close to the next best thing.