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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)

One of the dishes I grew up eating was “chicken fajitas.” They weren’t fajitas in the traditional sense but that’s what we always called them. My mom would make a chicken stew called pollo guisado. We would use the stew as a filling in tortillas and eat them like fajitas. Everyone in the family loved “chicken fajitas” for dinner…kids and adults alike!

I’ll never forget one chicken fajita night in particular. My mom called us all into dinner and we sat down to eat while she finished up a few things in the kitchen. We each started eating then slowly looked at one another. Something was not right. In fact, our food tasted downright weird. No one in the family had the heart to say anything, so we just kept eating. My mom finally sat down, took one bite and said, “Why are you guys eating this?!?!” She immediately realized she had put cinnamon into the stew instead of cumin. Might I recommend NOT using cinnamon in this dish!

Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)
From Cuisine of the American Southwest by Anne Lindsay Greer This stew is rarely served alone as a main course, but rather is frequently used as a filling for Tortas, Tacos or Chalupas (or, in the case of the Wallins, Fajitas)
Recipe type: Main Dish, Poultry
  • 2 pounds boneless raw chicken, skinned and cut into bite-size pieces, see note*
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with the juices
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Chicen stock, if needed to thin, see note*
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a bag. Add the chicken in several batches and shake vigorously to coat very lightly with the seasoned flour. In a large skillet, saute the chicken in the oil and butter over medium heat until all sides are lightly browned. Add additional butter if necessary (my mom says she find this is always necessary!). Remove the chicken.
  2. Saute onion and bell pepper 1-2 minutes in the remaining fat in the skillet. Stir in the tomatoes and the juices breaking up the tomatoes with a fork. Stir in the cumin and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and some stock if the mixture seems too thick. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve as a filling for tortas, tacos, chalupas or fajitas and top with whatever toppings you like (cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, yadayada). Yields enough filling for about 12 tacos.
  4. *Note: Because this is a filling, the amounts of chicken and liquid are variable depending upon how you plan to use it.



  1. 1

    Sounds just like what I’ve been looking for, thanks.

    Re cinnamon vs cumin: I regularly make a quick peach tart which I spinkle with cinnamon. You can imagine the look on my husband’s face the night that I accidentally sprinkled it with cumin! I now always double-check when I use those two spices.

  2. Could this be made in a crockpot? It sounds lovely. I love carne guisado so pollo is a lovely change.

    • Jane Maynard

      I think this could definitely be crock-pot worthy! I might still dredge in flour and brown in a pan, but you could also just try skipping that step. if you do crock-pot it, let us know how it goes!

    • Thanks I will try it and report back. 😀

  3. 3

    That must be a common mistake…my brother in law was helping my sister make black bean soup and did the same thing! The really unfortunate part was that she was supposed to bring the soup to a dinner that night…

  4. 4
    Nikki CB

    Love the story! Cooking mix-ups are fun…well, maybe not to eat, but at least to talk about later!

  5. That sounds super yummy and a way for me to change up the tacos my husband is currently obsessed with!

  6. 6

    Haha! We were over at a friend’s for dinner and they made spaghetti and somehow cinnamon was mistakenly added to the sauce. Oddly enough, it actually tasted really good! This recipe sounds delicious, can’t wait to try it.

  7. That is so funny about the cumin / cinnamon mix up. My grandma did the same thing with an apple pie once (well, the opposite). She knew she’d done it but was hoping no one would notice. It was actually great, but definitely unusual.

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