I adapted this from a recipe I found on a Chowhound thread when I was looking for something exciting to do with a big jar of nopalitos (sliced and boiled cactus pads) I had in the pantry.
I'm currently on the Whole30 nutrition plan (no dairy, grains, sugars, alcohol, additives, sulfites, etc) so I was happy to find this recipe would fit in with my diet.
The original recipe writer said her family would cook this down until there was not much liquid left and eat in tortillas- kind of like carne guisada. Since I can't have tortillas on Whole30, I made it into a stew.
It would also be good with beef or pork subbed in for the chicken, or with more veggies like potato, corn, or zucchini added in.
Toppings could vary as well for those not abiding by Whole30: sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, etc.
This could be done in a slow cooker by browning the chicken and onions first, then adding in the rest of ingredients and cooking on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4. It could be done in the Instant Pot as well by doing the same, but adding less broth and using the "stew" function.
Nopalito Chicken Stew
Servings: about 6
1 or 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1lb, 14oz jar nopalitos
1 20 oz can tomatillos
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies; OR 2 chopped chipotles in adobo
1 medium tomato, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle paste (omit if using canned chipotles)
2 cups chicken broth (more or less for desired consistency)
Optional toppings Whole30 compliant: chopped cilantro, diced avocado, diced radish, chopped jalapeno, chopped green/red onion.
Toss chicken in garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper. Brown in heavy-bottomed dutch oven (or similar).
Once browned, add onion and cook until soft. Drain & rinse nopalitos, and add to the pot. Drain the tomatillos and add to the pot. Once tomatillos are in the pot, gently break them up (or they will squirt you in the face) with a spoon or cut them up with kitchen shears.
Add tomato paste, chilies (and adobo if using), garlic, cumin, and chipotle paste,. Stir to combine, then add broth to cover the items in the pot. Stir, turn down heat to a very low simmer, cover and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
Serve in bowls with desired toppings.