1 jalapeño chile or 2 serranos, seeded for a milder sauce and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion, soaked for a few minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1/2 to 1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
Salt to taste
1 large chicken breast, poached and shredded (about 2 cups shredded meat)
8 corn tortillas, toasted and coarsely broken up, or 2 cups baked tortilla chips
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons chopped green onion (scallions)
Combine the tomatoes, chiles, chopped onion and garlic in a food processer or blender, and blend until coarsely pureed.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat, and add a drop of the puree. It should sizzle. Add all of the tomato puree, and cook, stirring, for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce darkens, thickens and begins to stick to the pan. Add water or stock if the mixture seems dry, and season to taste with salt. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until the sauce coats the front and back of a spoon. Taste and adjust salt.
Stir in the chicken and heat through. Stir in the tortilla chips or pieces, stir together for a half-minute, and remove from the heat. Sprinkle the cheese, cilantro and sliced onion over the top, and serve.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: The poached, shredded chicken breast will keep for three days in the refrigerator. You can make this dish ahead through Step 2 and remove from the heat. Reheat gently and proceed with Step 3, then serve right away.