By Laura Mack
March 13, 2016
This low carb Chicken Chile Verde is so savory and satisfying, with the earthy spices and flavors that I love about Mexican food. It’s not spicy-hot, just very well seasoned. You can add more cayenne if you like it hot, or simply serve it with hot sauce and/or sliced pickled jalapenos on the side.
Spring weather can be volatile in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had ridiculous winds and rain over the past week. Although I can see the signs of Spring approaching in the trees leafing out and the daffodils blooming, I’m still craving cozy foods that will nourish me through the still-wintry weather.
I’m not someone who generally eats the same foods day after day, but I’ll confess that I’ve dined on this chicken chile verde stew four times over the past four days! It’s simply one of my favorites, especially when topped with some tasty garnishes, such as cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, pickled jalapeno slices, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), green onions, and fresh herbs such as cilantro and chives. I don’t think I’ve ever used all of these at the same time, but you get the idea!
It’s a recipe that takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, but an hour of that is in the oven, so it’s not labor-intensive. It is totally worth the wait. I always double this recipe and freeze the leftovers in portion-size double resealable freezer bags. In fact, I have some chillin’ in my freezer as I write this, just waiting to be turned into a hearty 5-minute meal.
This chicken chile verde recipe uses my Mexican Seasoning Blend, which I predict will become one of your new favorite pantry essentials, especially if you adore Mexican flavors as much as I do! You’ll notice that the recipe makes about 2/3 cup of the blend, but only uses 1 tablespoon in the dish. Like my BBQ Dry Rub, I use this seasoning blend in so many ways that I usually double or triple the quantities when I make it. Not only is it in nearly every Mexican dish that I prepare, it’s also a great rub (as I use it here) for all kinds of meat and seafood. You will be seeing more recipes from me very soon that use my Mexican Seasoning Blend, but in the meantime, I’m sure you can come up with some ideas of your own (and do share!).
I make a lovely verde/green enchilada sauce from scratch with oven-roasted tomatillos, green chiles, onions, and garlic, but there are times I want to keep things quick and easy. This recipe uses prepared green enchilada sauce to keep my total prep time down to about 20 minutes. The trick is choosing the right sauce. Unfortunately, most of what is available at the average grocery store is filled with starches, sugars, industrial seed oils, and other additives like MSG — yucky stuff!
My favorite green enchilada sauce is an organic, gluten-free product made by family-run Sweet Creek Foods in Oregon, so it’s available at a number of my local independent grocery stores and may also be at some Whole Foods locations. The ingredients are just what you’d probably use if you made it at home, with no added sugar, starches, or questionable food additives. It uses xanthan gum for thickening, which is one of my go-to natural ingredients for low carb/gluten-free cooking and baking.
While Sweet Creek’s Green Enchilada Sauce might not be available where you are, there are other alternatives. Frontera Foods offers some good prepared products, including a Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, from celebrity chef Rick Bayless, and they are often available at national grocery chains. Frontera’s sauce is gluten-free, although it’s not organic. Unfortunately, it does contain some added sugar in the form of evaporated cane juice. However, it appears to be a small amount since the net carbs are still quite low, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless you’re extremely sugar sensitive. I should also note for those of you who are dairy-free, it does contain heavy cream.
Keep your eyes out for other sources of prepared green enchilada sauce that eschew gluten, starches, industrial seed oils, and mystery additives. I prefer no added sugar, but a trace amount is probably OK, as long as it’s not high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). If you find some alternatives, please share in the comments section — it’s great to have more options!
As I mentioned above, this dish is basically a low carb stew. However, it’s easily converted into a less-saucy filling for whatever you can think of, such as low carb stuffed peppers and “taco” salads, or served over cauliflower rice. Simply reduce the green enchilada sauce by half (8 ounces instead of 16) and you’re good to go.
A note about portion sizes: The recipe says that it serves 6 to 8. For 6 servings, the portions are very hearty. This may be a little higher in protein than what you’d like, depending upon your needs, what else you may have eaten that day, and whether you’re adding other protein like cheese on top. In the nutrition notes below, I’ve included the info for a serving based on 1/8 of the recipe. Just serve with a salad or more veggies for a filling meal that’s a little lower in protein.
I encourage you to give this chicken chile verde a try. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. Perhaps next time, you’ll be inspired to make a double batch and freeze extra portions for your own 5-minute meals!
Chicken Chile Verde and Mexican Seasoning Blend
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Savory and satisfying chicken stew with the earthy spices and flavors of Mexico. Serve as is, or use half the quantity of green enchilada sauce if you prefer a less saucy version to use for a filling or salad. I routinely double this recipe and it fits nicely in my 6-quart dutch oven.
Mexican Seasoning Blend
(makes about ⅔ cup)
¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1½ tablespoons kosher sea salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot depending on your preference)
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional}
Chicken Chile Verde
2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
1 tablespoon Mexican Seasoning Blend
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 ounces/1/2 cup water
16 ounces/2 cups green enchilada sauce (see above for more suggestions)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, pickled jalapeno slices, green onions, cilantro, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- For Mexican Seasoning Blend, add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. You will need only one tablespoon for this recipe, so store the remainder, tightly covered, in a cool, dark place for future use.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Pat the chicken chunks with paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the chicken chunks with 1 tablespoon of the Mexican Seasoning Blend to evenly coat pieces and set aside.
- Place a heavy-duty, oven-safe Dutch oven (6-quart) over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, add half of the chicken chunks. (You will need to cook chicken in two batches or it will steam instead of developing a caramelized exterior.) Cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is nicely browned (it does not need to be completely cooked through). Remove chicken and transfer to a dish large enough to hold all of the cooked chicken. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and cook the remaining chicken. Remove chicken and add to the rest of the cooked chicken.
- Return the empty pan to the stove and reduce heat to low. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions and peppers to the pan and cook until slightly softened and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add water to the pan and stir to scrape up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the reserved chicken and the green enchilada sauce (use half the amount if you are making to use as a filling instead of a stew), and stir to blend well. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
- Cover Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid or foil and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. To serve as a stew, add your choice of garnishes and enjoy!
Nutritional info* for 1 of 6 servings: 348 cal, 18 g total fat (43%), 4.9 g total carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 2.6 g net carbs, and 38 g protein.
Nutritional info* for 1 of 8 servings: 261 cal, 14 g total fat (43%), 3.7 g total carbs, 1.7 g fiber, 2 g net carbs, and 28 g protein.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.