Chicken Pozole (Guest Post)
As much as I love Mexican food, I’ve always been a little intimidated by some of the dishes.
I’ve made mole, tamales, tacos, rice and beans, but in the past I’ve always taken shortcuts when making the dishes, using canned or bottled sauces. Since Allison started this blog, I’ve been more up to the challenge of tackling recipes from scratch, but the one recipe I was still too intimidated to try was pozole. I just thought it would be far too complicated to make.
At my old job, I had a co-worker who told me that pozole was so easy, and that she would write down the recipe for me. But she never got around to writing it down, despite the stacks of post-its and note paper available all over the office. She and my other coworker would just condescendingly tell me how simple it was to make.
Now I have a new job with co-workers who are quick to help me out; I can tell they are genuinely happy when they see me succeed, not just in ophthalmology, but in cooking as well. My co-worker, Linda, mentioned she made pozole one day. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me it was really easy, while grabbing a bit of paper and scribbling down some simple directions.
Allison and I were busy with different recipes we already planned to try out for the blog, so I kept that bit of paper safe for two weeks before I finally tried it. The first time I made pozole, I didn’t add enough salt or hominy—I used just one medium-sized can of hominy (although it was a pretty big can) but that wasn’t enough. You can’t have pozole without hominy, a type of alkali-treated dried corn kernel. It has the texture of a tender corn nut, with a flavor far less sweet than yellow corn kernels. Hominy takes on the flavors of whatever you simmer it in; in this case it absorbs the rich chile broth.
(I also didn’t strain the blended peppers, so the tiny bits and pieces of blended guajillo and California peppers floated around in the broth and got stuck in Allison’s teeth; she asked me to strain them the second time I made it.)
I simmered my second batch of pozole down so much that there wasn’t enough liquid to even call it a soup, but it still tasted amazing. I strained the blended peppers, but still left in about a tablespoon so you could see them floating around. I like them; you can decide whether you want to strain the broth completely or not—leaving in the blended peppers can add an extra bit of spice.
The guajillo and California peppers are not very spicy, but they are very flavorful. You can also spice things up more by adding diced serrano pepper along with all the other toppings at the end.
Pozole is delicious with lots of fresh lime squeezed in, although Allison would like me to tell you she forgot to include lime wedges in the photos. It also makes for another great excuse to crunch on raw cabbage, which Allison and I recently discovered we love, even though it hadn’t been on our radar before.
The recipe Linda wrote was very simple. It didn’t list the amounts of water, salt, or chicken; it was a short description written hastily on a bit of paper a few minutes before we were to clock out for the day and leave. So I’ll say this recipe is “barely adapted.” We improvised for how much salt, onion, garlic, and chicken to use.
The third time I made it, it came out perfectly. Allison and I had it for Christmas dinner. When Allison’s parents were in town, we also served it to them and even though her mother is unable to handle spicy food, she loved it.
This pozole was so easy to make, I’ve even made it on a Tuesday night when I was exhausted after working all day. This winter, chicken pozole has replaced turkey kale lentil soup as my quick and simple go-to soup.
It’s sad that I’d been so hesitant in making this dish since before trying this recipe, I had not eaten a bowl of pozole in at least 10 years. While chicken pozole is not uncommon, pozole is usually made with pork, and I rarely eat pork—when I do, it’s usually while eating out, so I never handle it at home.
Each time I made this I would go back to work and tell Linda how amazing it was and she would exclaim “You made it again?!” I would bring in containers of pozole and all the fixings for lunch, and other co-workers would tell me how good it looked and smelled. I would credit Linda every time and promise to post it to the blog soon. I think Linda will be happy that I finally did.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
(Barely adapted from my co-worker Linda’s recipe)
Active time: 35 min.; Total time: 1 hour 35 min.
~ 3-4 lbs. bone-in chicken
~ ½ onion, kept intact or chopped
~ 2 cloves garlic, peeled
~ ½ tsp. salt
~ 6 dried guajillo peppers
~ 6 dried California peppers
~ two 29 oz.-cans white hominy, drained
~ 4-5 shakes dried oregano, or to taste
~ green cabbage, diced
~ fresh cilantro, chopped
~ white onion, finely diced
~ 1-2 serrano peppers, finely diced
~ radishes, thinly sliced
~ fresh lime wedges
Special equipment needed:
~ fine mesh strainer
How to make it:
1. Place bone-in chicken into a large (6-quart) stockpot, along with the ½ onion, 1 clove of garlic, and ½ tsp. salt, and cover with water, nearly filling the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, occasionally skimming the foam off the top. Once the chicken is cooked, lower the heat all the way down, to barely a simmer, until you’re ready for step #5.
2. Seed and de-vein the guajillo and California chile peppers. Place in a large saucepan along with 1 clove garlic and a pinch of salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
3. Remove cooked chicken breasts (if any) from the stockpot using tongs, and shred meat coarsely before returning it to the pot without the bones. It’s not necessary to shred the meat from drumsticks or thighs because it will cook until the meat falls off the bone.
4. Optionally remove the onion from the chicken pot and add to blender along with the cooked, drained chiles and the clove of garlic (from the chiles); blend until smooth. Chopped onion can be left in the broth with the chicken (I just don’t like the texture of onion, so I blend mine with the chiles).
5. Add drained hominy to the pot with the chicken. Then press the blended chile mixture through a fine mesh strainer (optional), adding it into the pot to season the broth. Season with oregano and salt to taste. Bring the heat up to medium and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 45-60 minutes, until it reduces slightly and you like the flavor.
6. Serve warm with an assortment of toppings that each person can add to their own bowl of pozole: diced cabbage, chopped fresh cilantro, finely diced onion and serrano pepper, finely sliced radishes, and fresh lime wedges.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
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