This easy and healthy recipe for Pollo en Jocón, tomatillo and cilantro chicken stew, is a traditional dish from Guatemala. Delicious and easy to make it’s the perfect cold-weather comfort food.
During the holidays one of the things I miss the most from back home, besides my family and friends, is the food. Christmas in Guatemala is all about making delicious stews, tamales, and ponche. So this year I wanted to try out one of my favorite chicken stews: Pollo en Jocón. This dish is traditional to Guatemala and consists of chicken stew in a sauce made with tomatillos and cilantro and thickened with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and tortilla.
My kids love trying new foods from their home country since we rarely get a chance to eat Guatemalan food here in the US unless we cook it. One of the things I love about Pollo en Jocón, besides it’s fresh and tangy flavor, is that it’s very healthy and easy to make. And now that the weather is getting cooler, can’t believe we’re in the 40’s this weekend in Florida, Pollo en Jocón is the perfect comfort food.
Recipe for Pollo en Jocón from Guatemala
- 1⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pound of fresh tomatillos, husked (8-10) or 1 11oz cans of tomatillos, drained
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large green peppers, seeds and ribs removed and roughly chopped
- 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- In a dry non-stick pan over medium toast pumpkin seeds, moving constantly for 35 minutes.
- Add the sesame seeds and continue tossing for 2 more minutes until they are very lightly browned.
- Remove from heat immediately so they don’t continue browning.
- Put toasted pumpkin seeds and toasted sesame seeds into a blender and pulse on “puree” for 5 or 10 seconds, until they are ground. (You may need to stir a bit between pulses) Scrape into a small bowl or cup, and set aside. (no need to wash blender you will use it again soon)
- Place chicken and fresh tomatillos in a large pot with 5 -6 cups of PUR filtered water
(enough to just cover). Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan. Sauté the garlic, green pepper and onion stirring frequently, until the onion starts to brown and the green peppers are softened. Remove from heat.
- With a slotted spoon remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
- Remove tomatillos from the broth and transfer to the blender.
- Add cilantro, 1 1/2 cup of the strained chicken broth to and green pepper and onion mixture to the blender. Puree for about 20 seconds until smooth.
- Pour the sauce into a pot and add ground seeds to the pot and 2 more cups of the 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 (pull chicken apart using two forks. Refer to photo in BBQ Chicken Enchiladas). Add shredded chicken to the thickened sauce along with salt and fresh pepper, to taste. Simmer gently for an additional 10 minutes.