Cooking With Chef Babs

Chicken Tortilla Stew



30 minutes

active time

75 minutes

total time


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 large jalapeno pepper finely diced (optionally remove seeds)

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth

Two 15 oz cans diced tomatoes in juice

Two 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked rice (medium or long grain preferred)

1-2 chicken breasts (1 if using the enormous, mutant sized ones)


Tortilla Strips

Cheese (see note 1)




1) Heat a large pot over medium heat.

2) Once the pot gets up to temperature (water should dance around at the bottom), add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook and stir occasionally until the onion has become translucent and a bit golden, but not completely caramelized.

3) Add the garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant. This should be about 2 minutes or so.

4) Add the broth, tomatoes, black beans, and chicken breasts.

5) Once it returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure to keep an eye on the chicken! Remove it once it is cooked all the way through, about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, use a meat probe and remove at about 155 (see note 2 if you are concerned about food safety).

6) After the chicken has been removed, shred it using forks, knives, tongs, or whatever utensils you have on hand. If you have those ridiculous wolverine claw looking things, you lose 1 point in the eyes of Chef Babs for buying a stupid kitchen gadget.

7) After the broth has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the cup of cooked rice and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

8) Just before serving, add the shredded chicken back into the stew.

9) Serve with toppings of cheese, tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, and limes. Enjoy!


1) The cheese is a personal preference, but I would recommend either Chihuahua or Queso Fresco. The former will melt into the stew while the former is a bit more visually distinctive and gives a bit of a textural variety. Whatever you end up choosing, just grade your own. Pre-shredded cheese is covered in starches and weird chemicals that make it not melt as well.

2) So, chicken and the infamous 165 degree rule for safety. The reason it is recommended you cook chicken to this temp is to ensure any bacteria in the raw chicken is killed instantly. However, this often results in some seriously tough and dry chicken breasts unless you are buying some fancy and more expensive stuff. (See note 3 if you are interested)

Anyway, what isn't often mentioned though is that we can achieve the same amount of guaranteed bacteria killing power by holding the chicken at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. In this case, chicken needs to only be held at 155 for 50 seconds to guarantee all the bacteria within is killed. And since we will be adding this chicken back to the broth which will certainly be above that temp, we reduce our chances of getting tough and rubbery chicken in our delicious stew.

3) What you are looking for in "good" chicken are two things. The first is not a freakishly large breast or thigh. They should be modest size and not about the size of Sirius or Obi. The second is to keep an eye out for anything labeled as being air-chilled. This refers to how it was stored and cooled.

These two combined will help you achieve more tender and juicy chicken, especially with chicken breasts. I recommend an Amish brand called Miller Poultry's if you are interested. You can find it at Mariano's and Pete's Fresh Market.



30 minutes

active time

75 minutes

total time
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