Appetites: Taking the minimalist approach when cooking

Melissa Coleman
Melissa Coleman shares her approach to a minimalist approach in the kitchen and with the recipes.
Melissa Coleman

How do you make "more with less" in the kitchen?

Melissa Coleman, who blogs at The Faux Martha, has a new book out called "The Minimalist Kitchen" that answers that question.

Click the audio player above to hear a conversation with Coleman.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

With leftover Dutch Oven Whole Chicken, either from the fridge or the freezer, and a quick blender sauce, Chicken Tinga Tacos were born. Nothing gets compromised, making this weekend or weeknight ready. Make the Dutch Oven Whole Chicken in advance. (See recipe below.)

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Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 20 min. Yields: 3 servings (10 to 12 tacos)


Chicken Tinga Tacos from The Minimalist Kitchen
Chicken Tinga Tacos from The Minimalist Kitchen
Alison Miksch Photographer / Anna Hampton Food Stylist / Mary Clayton Carl Jones Prop Stylist

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons pureed chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup canned crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups shredded Dutch Oven Whole Chicken or rotisserie chicken


10 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced red onion
Crumbled cotija
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium. Once warm, add the oil and onion. Saute for 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in the chipotles, oregano, and cumin, and toast for 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes, stock, and salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 7 minutes. Place the tomato mixture in a high-powered or regular blender, and blend until smooth. Return the blended sauce to the pan over low heat. Add the chicken, and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

2. To serve, warm the tortillas. Place directly over a gas flame to char the edges. Place on a plate, and cover with a towel to steam. (If working on an electric stovetop, heat the tortillas on a warmed pan, and cover to steam.) Prepare the garnishes. To assemble, top the tortillas with the chicken and garnish with the avocado slices, cilantro, red onion, and cotija. Serve with a lime wedge for squeezing.

Dutch Oven Whole Chicken

Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 1 hr. 30 min. Yields: about 4 cups of pulled chicken

1 tablespoon kosher salt
A couple generous cracks of pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4- to 5-pound) whole chicken, thawed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl or ramekin, stir together the salt, pepper, and oil. Set aside.

3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry. Once the pot is warm, add in about one-third of the oil mixture. Immediately place the chicken in the pot, breast and drumstick side up. Paint the chicken with the remainder of the oil mixture. Cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour. At the hour mark, check the temperature between the leg and the breast meat. The chicken is ready when the thermometer reads 165dF and the juices run clear. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes more if needed. Once ready, remove from the oven and uncover to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving into the bird, or until cool enough to handle.

4. Pull the meat from the entire bird. Pour a couple spoonfuls of the leftover liquid over the meat to keep from drying out. Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days for use in another recipe or in the freezer for up to a month.


With the chicken remains, make a stock. Top with about 10 cups water, 2 roughly chopped carrots, half an onion broken into wedges, a couple sprigs of thyme, a handful of parsley, a bay leaf, a generous pinch of salt, and a couple peppercorns. Add a dash of ground turmeric for color, if desired. Bring to a simmer, and then turn the heat down to keep a very low simmer. Cook low and slow for 2 hours. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into mason jars and store covered overnight in the fridge. In the morning, skim the fat solids off the top and discard. Store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 3 months