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Chef's Corner: Chicken Pozole



Some dishes almost don't need a recipe at all, just a set of ingredients, a few standard steps. This is one of those where the amounts listed can be varied widely by what's on hand and your taste. For example you could substitute fish stock and shrimp for the chicken stock and chicken. 


An easy, delicious, warming meal for 6 to 8. It can also be easily halved. (In fact we halved it for ourselves, but kept the amount of chilies the same... we like spicy hot.)

This is our adaptation of a recipe by Anya von Bremzen (who has a number of varied and fascinating cookbooks), which appeared in Food and Wine Magazine.


 

POZOLE: A STATE OF MIND


A "state of mind" because almost every ingredient and amount can be left to whim


  • 7 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 4 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and halved

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 2 poblano chiles, more or less to taste

  • 2 jalapeños, more or less to taste

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced or smashed

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon oregano (Mexican oregano is best if you have it. It grows easily in our yard)

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans of hominy, drained, reserving the liquid

  • Condiments to serve along with the dish:

  • Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage, finely shredded

  • Sliced radishes

  • Chopped onion

  • Diced avocado

  • Sour cream

  • Tortilla chips

  • Lime wedges


Optional: for extra flavor we like to roast the garlic, tomatillos and onions (if they blacken up at different times, remove as they are done.). We char the poblanos (by roasting or grilling over a flame) then let them steam wrapped in a paper towel placed in a plastic bag. When cool, remove the blistered skin.



Bring the water and chicken stock to boil in a large pot or enameled casserole dish. Add the chicken breasts skin side down, cover, and simmer over very low heat until they're tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Skim and discard any fat from the cooking liquid and set the liquid aside.


Remove the chicken and reserve the cooking liquid in the pot/casserole.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the bones and skin and discard. Shred the meat.


TIP: One way to shred chicken is with two forks, but we have found, when we're being lazy, that you can get a decent job done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.



Remove the stem, seeds and core from the poblano chiles and roughly chop. Remove the stems from the jalapenos (remove the seeds if you like, we don't) and roughly chop.

In a blender, combine the tomatillos, onion, poblanos, jalapeños, smashed garlic, chopped cilantro, and oregano. Pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides. With the machine on, add 1 cup of the cooking liquid or more as needed and puree until smooth.


Season the tomatillo puree with salt and pepper.


In a large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the tomatillo puree and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce turns a deep green, about 12 minutes. If the mixture before cooking seems extremely thick, you can add a little bit more of the cooking liquid.



Combine the green sauce with the remaining cooking liquid in the pot/casserole. Add the hominy and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the shredded chicken to the stew, season with salt and pepper. If it seems too thick, you can add some of the liquid from the hominy cans. Cook just until heated through.


Serve the pozole in deep bowls. Provide the condiments for your diners to add as desired.



WINE SUGGESTION: While we had it with a simple table Chardonnay, a zinfandel would have been nice as well.

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