Mexican chicken stew with pink pickled onions

  • Low phosphate
  • Low potassium
  • Low salt
  • Main meal
  • 2 hours or less
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Low salt and low fat, this is a lovely filling and healthy meal if you are trying to lose weight.


1 whole medium chicken (about 1.5kg)

1 onion, unpeeled and quartered

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stick celery, roughly chopped

10 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

Pink pickled onions

1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of Β½ orange

Β½ red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

Few sprigs coriander, finely chopped

For the sauce

2 tablespoons light vegetable oil

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 large, mild chillies (red or green), seeds removed and finely chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)

1 teaspoon sugar

To serve

300g white rice

400g green beans

Soured cream, small pot (150ml)


  1. Step 1

    Put the chicken in a large saucepan with the quartered onion, crushed garlic, carrot, celery, peppercorns and bay leaves. Cover with cold water, put the lid on and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the poaching liquid.

  2. Step 2

    Make the pink pickled onions: cover the sliced red onion with boiling water and soak for 10 seconds. Drain and transfer the onion to a small bowl and add the lime and orange juices and chopped chilli (use less if you prefer it not too spicy) and stir. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours.

  3. Step 3

    To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the sliced onions. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook for 8 minutes until soft and golden, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, 400ml of your poaching liquid and the sugar. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to medium and simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

  4. Step 4

    Once cool, remove the chicken from the remaining liquid (do not throw this away), remove all the meat from the bones (discard the skin, bones, bits of fat and cartilage) and shred the meat with two forks - set this aside for later. Strain the poaching liquid through a sieve, discard the bits and keep this to use as chicken stock in other recipes (it freezes well).

  5. Step 5

    Add a few grinds of black pepper to the tomato sauce, then add the shredded chicken, turning the heat down to low-medium for another 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken and the flavour will intensify. If it needs any more liquid, add a splash more chicken stock.

  6. Step 6

    Cook the rice according to the packet instructions and boil the green beans for about 4 minutes until tender. Serve the rice with the chicken stew, the green beans on the side and a spoonful of soured cream (per person) and pink pickled onions. Finish with a sprinkle of chopped coriander.

Food facts

The rice is the main source of carbohydrate in this dish and the values have been provided for those who have trained in insulin adjustment.

Serving with boiled green beans and rice keeps this recipe low in potassium. Chicken is a source of phosphate. If you have been prescribed a phosphate binder, ensure you take them with this dish.

This recipe provides a good amount of protein which would be suitable for those having dialysis treatment.

Using a whole chicken is far more cost-effective and sustainable than buying just the breasts, for example.

Use brown rice rather than white rice for more fibre.

If you buy a free-range chicken, this can be tastier and more nutritious.

You can make this in advance and refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it in portions.

The leftover chicken stock can be reduced (to save space and intensify the flavour) and then refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months to use another time.

The pink pickled onions are easy to make, delicious and salt-free, but they can be replaced with a shop-bought salsa to save you time - however, check the nutritional information for how much salt the salsa contains. Swap one portion of pickled onions for one tablespoon of salsa per person to keep it low in potassium.