Guatemalan Green Chicken Stew is more commonly known as chicken stew with tomatillos or "pollo en jocon." Chicken is poached and then simmered in a beautiful green sauce made from tomatillos, cilantro, green peppers and onion.
This is a popular dish in Guatemala which is what led me to try it. I had never cooked with tomatillos before, nor had I ever thickened a stew with ground toasted seeds but I'm glad I did. This is a delicious tender chicken stew with fresh tangy flavors. It also happens to be healthy, low fat, dairy free and gluten free.
Guatemalan green chicken stew is a perfect dish for casual entertaining, especially with the added excitement of the garnishes - scallions, avocado, lime wedges and corn tortillas. By the way, in Guatemala it's common for corn tortillas to be served with every meal. Since early Mayan civilization, thousands of years ago, corn has been a very important crop in the region. In fact, the Mayan creation myth is that humankind was made from cornmeal dough.
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Here's the recipe for Guatemalan Green Chicken Stew. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a comment and a rating. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Guatemalan Green Chicken Stew: Pollo en Jocon
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
Delicious healthy chicken stew of tender shredded chicken in a fresh tangy tomatillo-cilantro sauce. Top with sliced avocado, chopped scallions and corn tortillas
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (toast for 5-7 minutes in a dry non-stick pan over medium heat with constant tossing until lightly browned)
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds (toast for 2 minutes in a dry non-stick pan over medium heat with constant tossing until very lightly browned - remove from heat as soon as they start to color)
- 5 pounds skinless chicken breasts with bones
- 1 ½ pounds of fresh tomatillos, husked (10-12) or 2 11-oz cans of tomatillos, drained
- 1 bunch of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed and roughly chopped
- 2 green peppers, seeds and ribs removed and roughly chopped
- 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Corn tortillas to serve with stew (1 per person)
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 1 avocado, cubed or sliced
- 2 limes, sliced into wedges for squeezing on top
- Put the toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds in a blender and pulse for 5 or 10 seconds, until finely ground. (You may need to stir a bit between pulses) Scrape them into a small bowl and set aside. No need to wash blender - you will use it again soon.
- Put chicken and fresh tomatillos in a large pot with 2 teaspoons of salt and 9-10 cups of water, or enough to just cover them. (If using canned tomatillos, don't add them to the pot. They'll be used later). Bring to a boil, lower to a very gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate and scoop tomatillos into the blender. If using canned tomatillos, put them into the blender. Pour the broth through a strainer set over a large bowl. (you will need 4 cups of broth for the stew) Wipe out pot.
- Add cilantro to the blender along with 1 cup of the strained chicken broth. Puree for 10-15 seconds. Pour the mixture into the pot. (keep blender out for one more use)
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan and cook garlic, jalapeño, green pepper and onion over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to brown. Scrape them into the blender, add 1 more cup of strained broth and puree for 10-15 seconds. Pour mixture into the pot with the tomatillos and cilantro. Add the ground seeds to the pot and 2 more cups of strained broth. (Remaining broth will not be needed but you might want to use it to make rice to accompany the stew). Bring contents of pot to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Meanwhile, remove chicken from bones and shred it. (pull chicken apart using two forks. Refer to photo in BBQ Chicken Enchiladas). Add shredded chicken to pot along with salt and fresh pepper, to taste. Simmer gently for an additional 5-10 minutes, until heated through.
- Serve stew in deep bowls, over rice, with corn tortillas tucked in. Sprinkle with cubed avocado, green onions and lime juice. I suggest a simple green salad with citrus dressing on the side. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Category: Stew
- Method: simmer
- Cuisine: Guatemalan
Keywords: pollo en jocon, chicken stew with tomatillos
(1) It’s a lot of chicken for one person, but I’m sure it freezes well (I’ll buy skin-on and save the skins to make gribenes, Jewish chicharrones). (2) I like it very hot, so those jalapeños won’t be deseeded OR deribbed. (3) I had trouble digesting green bell peppers when I was younger but, just as with MSG, I outgrew those problems. (4) I love using the ground toasted seeds for thickening (and flavor). (5) I adore tomatillos and cilantro! Remember to use the cilantro stems, too! (6)I might spike the poaching water with some chicken broth, and the bones will contribute to a rich stock. (7) Are bay leaves a good addition here or will they alter the stock’s flavor profile? (8) One commenter mentioned adding sour cream; I am very tempted to do so. (9) Instead of using corn tortillas, I’ll cut them into strips and fry in corn oil (or chicken fat) until crunchy. They’ll make great toppers, along with the crumbled gribenes, diced avocado, chopped green onions, and lime wedges. (10) I CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE THIS AMAZING RECIPE!
Hi Hollis, I love all of your notes on this recipe! I can't wait to hear your review once you cook this. Thanks so much for your detailed comment and star rating.
Hello, I have chicken thighs in my fridge can I use them instead of the breast?
Hi Patricia. Yes, absolutely. Chicken thighs are so delicious, I'm sure the stew will be great!
Thank you Lisa for your prompt reply. I will make it tonight😊
Just made this, absolutely incredible. I probably would make it for a larger group next time as it had a few steps to prepare but I could not be happier with the recipe.
This recipe is so good! My picky 13 yr old loved it too!
Hi TJ, if it makes the picky eater happy, what more could we ask? I'm so glad to hear you all enjoyed!
This is a new family favorite. My husband had a lunch competition at work and each department had a country to make a dish from. As you can guess, his department had Guatemala. I made your dish. Your dish was loved as there were no left-overs and by-the-way his department won the competition. While I cannot say for sure this recipe was the reason they won? I have a good feeling, it is so! 😉
Silly question...by green pepper are you referring to a green bell pepper? Or another type of green pepper?
Bell pepper. Good point - I should specify that!
This is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made, and I've made a lot. My wife and I absolutely loved the fresh flavors, the cilantro, the tomatillos... absolutely delicious. Even with all 3 jalapenos, we didn't think it was too spicy at all. They added a great flavor. I made this on a Friday, and we just had it for Sunday dinner too. I will be making this again and again. I used a combination of boneless thighs and breasts. The broth was delicious and we saved it for another recipe! Thank you for another wonderful recipe!
Thanks so much Dave! I'm so glad to hear it!
use good tortillas if possible, make in your own kitchen from corn masa or maseca
Make every effort to have decent tortillas with this. In the states the best thing is to make them with corn masa or maseca. Most commercial ones are horrible.
Oh. My. Gosh. Soooooooo good. I only used one jalapeño, So it wasn't too spicy. It was perfect. It made a lot, so perfect for a large group. I definitely will be sharing this recipe. Although, I lived in Guatemala for a fair amount of time and I've never seen it or heard of it before.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for commenting Anna! I'm glad you like it!! It's one of my favorites to serve for a casual night with friends. 🙂
Fantastic stew! Great meal that I can adjust the heat on for different tolerances in the family. Thanks for sharing this!
Our family really enjoyed this! We only added one jalapeno, though. I added the seeds and it was just the right heat. The pumpkin and sesame seeds really added flavor to the dish! I added sour cream, cilantro with the avocado on top. I forgot to serve it over rice, I'll do that next time. Such a delicious meal. I'd give it 4/5 stars. the kids say 5/5.
Did you add the sour cream on top? I’m thinking of stirring it into the recado. I have enough toppings already!
This recipe is lovely - probably my favorite of the typical recados of Guatemala. One small note, though: it's called jocón, not jacon. And fun fact: in Guatemala tomatillos are called miltomates (not tomatillos like in Mexico). If you can find fresh ones, it's definitely worth it to use them (although they are tedious to peel).
Thanks Hannah. I love this dish too! And I really appreciate the spelling correction - I fixed it. Lisa
Made this tonight and it was so tasty--we will definitely be making this often as well!
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
Making this tonight for our virtual travel around the globe night! 🙂
Hi Maureen, I hope you enjoyed the stew. Your virtual travel around the globe night sounds like a lot of fun!
I also made this for my family tonight. So much flavor! Great instructions -- came off without a hitch. Thanks Lisa
Made this for family and friends tonight and it was a HUGE hit! Thanks for a great dinner!!
This looks just wonderful! I plan on making it next week!
I will be making this soon. Sounds great after all the heavy and rich holiday food!!