Chicken With Tomatillos

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Chicken with tomatillos is a staple in Mexican cuisine. It’s truly a wonderful and comforting dish that is delicious. The juicy, tender chicken goes well with the bright, tangy flavor of tomatillos and onions. This recipe for chicken with tomatillos is so full of flavor that you’ll be asking yourself how you ever lived without it.

Tomatillo Chicken Stew

Spicy tomatillo chicken stew puts tender chicken thighs and tomatillos to good use. Use canned or fresh tomatillos in this chicken stew recipe.

Tomatillo Chicken Stew

September is tomatillo season around here. Little green lanterns hang from our tomatillo plants like ornaments on a well decorated Christmas tree.

Do you ever cook with tomatillos? They look like smallish green tomatoes, and are even called “tomate verde” in Mexico, and are used for making salsa verde and chile verde.

Why Roast Tomatillos

Tomatillos are typically boiled with some chiles to make the green salsa. But roasting them, as I’ve done in this recipe, will bring out more flavor.

If you don’t have access to fresh tomatillos, you can use canned salsa verde for the sauce (sort of like using canned tomatoes versus fresh).

Tomatillos

Controlling the Heat in This Recipe

I experimented with the jalapeños; it’s so easy to misjudge how much heat you’ll need. The first time I made this I carefully seeded one chile and the result was that I couldn’t even taste the heat or the chile. The second time I used two jalapeños and kept all the seeds.

Woo boy, big difference.

It was perfectly hot for my father, and I needed a little sour cream to cool it down enough for me. Now, both of the chiles were from our garden, and were not overly picante.

If you are working with chiles with lots of striations, check the hotness first. If a tiny bite sets you running for a fire extinguisher, don’t use as much.

Watch This Tomatillo Chicken Stew Recipe

Make a Vegetarian Tomatillo Stew

To make a vegan version, swap out the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Readers suggested swapping chicken for jackfruit as well.

If you don’t have access to canned jackfruit, you can also replace the chicken with your choice of beans, like pinto, navy, kidney, black, or any combination of your favorite beans.

Shortcut Chicken Tomatillo Stew 

You could make this dish easier by using meat from a rotisserie chicken or using any cooked leftover chicken (or even turkey) you have leftover.

Skip step 2 in the recipe below, and add the cooked poultry in step 4.

Want More Heat? Try This!

If you like a little extra fire in your stews, add more jalapeños and/or serranos, including the seeds. Or you can put in roasted habañeros or bonnet peppers, if you’re feeling really adventurous. For less heat, leave out the peppers, or try a milder poblano, hatch or anaheim pepper.

You can also add paprika, chile powder, or cayenne with the cumin and coriander while cooking the onions for a different type of heat.

Tomatillo Stew for Later

Got a bumper crop of tomatillos? Double the recipe and freeze. Or make the tomatillo sauce and freeze as a base for future stews.

You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. For longer storage, freeze the stew in airtight container for up to 3 months.

Best to defrost in the refrigerate overnight before reheating. But you can also heat directly from the freezer. Just microwave it a little bit to loosen it from its container, then reheat over medium-low heat in a pot on the stove-top. Stir, occasionally to make sure any frozen chunks are distributed and to keep the bottom from burning.

Tomatillo Chicken Stew

PREP TIME20 mins

COOK TIME40 mins

TOTAL TIME60 mins

SERVINGS4 servings

You can make this recipe with fresh tomatillos, or you can use canned chile verde tomatillo salsa as a substitute for the tomatillo sauce.

Ingredients

For the Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, or 2 to 3 serrano peppers (include the seeds if you want the heat, remove them if you don’t want the heat), chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice
  • Pinch sugar

For the Stew

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomatillo sauce (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro

For Serving

  • White rice
  • Sour cream, optional garnish

Method

  1. Make the tomatillo sauce:Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse well. Cut the tomatillos in half and place them cut-side down on an aluminum foil-lined roasting pan.Broil for 5 to 7 minutes until blackened in spots. Let cool enough to handle.tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-1tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-2Place the tomatillos, any juice they have released, chile peppers, garlic, salt, lime juice and sugar in a blender, and pulse until well blended.If you make ahead, refrigerate until needed.
  2. Brown the chicken:Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot on medium high heat until almost smoking. Pat dry the cubed chicken parts with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them.Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown the chicken pieces on two sides. Add more olive oil when necessary.When you place the pieces in the pan, make sure there is room between them (otherwise they will steam and not brown), and don’t move them until they are browned on one side.wThen, use tongs or a metal spatula to turn them over. And don’t move them again until they are browned on the other side. Do not cook through, but only brown.tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-3tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-4Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and lower the heat to medium. There should be a nice layer of browned bits (fond) at the bottom of the pan.
  3. Cook the onions, add spices, then garlicAdd the onions to the pan, and a tablespoon or two more olive oil, if needed (likely).Add ground cumin and coriander. Cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are softened and the browned bits from the chicken have been picked up by the onions and are no longer sticking to the pan.Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-5
  4. Make the stew:Add the browned chicken, the tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, and oregano to the pan. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.Cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add the cilantro to the stew in the last minute or so of cooking.tomatillo-chicken-stew-method-6
  5. Serve over rice with optional sour cream:Serve over white rice, accompanied with sour cream, if needed to offset the heat from the chiles. The stew will thicken as it cools.

Pollo Entomatado

Tomatillo chicken, called pollo entomadado, is prepared with skinless chicken thighs and legs, and white potatoes simmered with tangy tomatillos and chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Chicken doesn’t have to be dull. This dish has layers of flavor. The chicken is lightly browned, and the tomatillos sauteed then all the ingredients are simmered together to create a rich sauce. It’s even healthy as an added bonus.

Mexican Tomatillo Chicken Dish

We like to serve it with Mexican Rice or white rice as a side dish but it’s so good it doesn’t need a side. A stack of warm corn tortillas is always welcome too.

Mexican Tomatillo Chipotle Chicken Recipe

How to Make

Ingredients:

Gather all your ingredients.

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 ¼ lb. tomatillos or green tomatoes
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • ¼ large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt + to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
Ingredients to Make Mexican Tomatillo Chicken

First, remove the skin from the chicken.

Chicken Pieces with Skin Removed on Prep Table

Then, generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prep the potato, tomatillo, onion and other ingredients.

Salted Chicken Pieces

Cut the potato into ½″ cubes. Cut the tomatillo into ½″ pieces. Slice the onion lengthwise into thin strips. Finely chop the cilantro, garlic, and chipotle chile.

Chopped Vegetables on Cutting Board

Preheat a large frying pan to medium-hot then add 3 tbsp. of olive oil. In the hot oil, lightly brown the chicken pieces on both sides.

Skinless Chicken legs and Thighs in Frying Pan
Chicken Legs and Thighs Browning in Frying Pan

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside while you work with the other ingredients.

Browned Chicken Legs and Thighs Being Removed from Frying Pan

In the same pan that you cooked the chicken, add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute until the onion just starts to turn translucent.

Sauteeing Onions Garlic in Frying Pan
Sauteed Onions and Garlic in Frying Pan

Then add the tomatillo and cook for 5 minutes until it has softened and is changing in color from bright green to pale green.

Chopped Tomatillo Cooking in Frying Pan

Add the chopped chipotle and stir. The chipotle adds a little smoky heat. It’s just enough to give the sauce a hint of heat but not make it burn-your-mouth hot.

Chopped Chipotle and Tomatillo in Frying Pan
Simmering Tomatillo Chipotle Sauce

Add the potatoes and cilantro stir well.

Adding Potato and Cilantro to Tomatillos

Add the chicken broth.

Adding Chicken Broth to Tomatillo Chicken Stew

Add the water.

Adding Water to Tomtillo Chicken Stew Cooking in Pan

Add the oregano and salt and stir.

Adding Oregano to Chicken Tomatillo Stew Cooking in Pan

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Simmering Tomatillo Sauce

Add the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Simmering Chicken Tomatillo

The tomatillo sauce reduces and intensifies in flavor.

Chicken Tomatillo in Pan

Serving

Spoon the tomatillo potato mixture on a plate and place 1 thigh and 1 leg on top. Serve with white rice or Mexican rice as a side dish.

Tomatillo Chicken Dish Closeup

This will become one of your favorite chicken dishes. It’s easy to prepare and has depth of flavor.

Mexican Chipotle Tomatillo Chicken Dish

Tomatillo Chicken Recipe

Tomatillo chicken, called pollo entomadado, prepared with skinless chicken thighs and legs, and white potatoes simmered with tangy tomatillos and chipotle chile in adobo sauce.

 CourseDinner

 CuisineMexican

 Keywordhow to make tomatillo chicken, Mexican chicken recipe, tomatillo chicken recipe

 Prep Time20 minutes

 Cook Time35 minutes

 Total Time55 minutes

 Servings4 servings

 Calories367kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 ¼ lb. tomatillos or green tomatoes
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • ¼ large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt + to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions

  • First, remove the skin from the chicken.
  • Then, generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prep the potato, tomatillo, onion and other ingredients.
  • Remove the papery husk from the tomatillos then rinse under warm water.
  • Cut the potato into ½″ cubes. Cut the tomatillo into ½″ pieces. Slice the onion lengthwise into thin strips. Finely chop the cilantro, garlic, and chipotle chile.
  • Preheat a large frying pan to medium-hot then add 3 tbsp. of olive oil. In the hot oil, lightly brown the chicken pieces on both sides.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan that you cooked the chicken, add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute until the onion just starts to turn translucent.
  • Then add the tomatillo and cook for 5 minutes until it has softened and is changing in color from bright green to pale green.
  • Add the chopped chipotle and stir. Add the potatoes and cilantro stir well.
  • Add the chicken broth, water, oregano, and salt then stir well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then add the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • To serve, spoon the tomatillo potato mixture on a plate and place 1 thigh and 1 leg on top.

Notes

Substitutions

  • You can leave the skin on the chicken if you prefer. Follow the same steps for browning and cooking.

Storage

  • It will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 2pieces | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 662mg | Sugar: 6g

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