Do any of you cook with hominy?
Last year, when I saw a bag of Rancho Gordo hominy at my local butcher shop, I couldn't resist snatching it up. I had never cooked with hominy before and I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it - an impulse buy you could say. Some weeks later I was thumbing through the Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today cookbook and found her recipe for Pozole, a wonderful Mexican stew packed with chicken, hominy, tomatillos and topped with lime, avocado, radish and cilantro. Bingo! Now my hominy had a purpose.
Well I have to tell you, that pozole was good - irresistibly good - and I knew I wanted to share it with you guys. Finally, here I am.
As you have probably noticed, I tend to favor recipes that are simple and quick to make, not fussing too much with the natural deliciousness of good ingredients. As I am in the thick of recipe testing feedback for my book ( thank you wonderful testers!), one of my favorite compliments is that the recipes are surprisingly easy. This makes me happy. That said, this pozole recipe is kinda time consuming and makes for a ton of dishes, but it's so worth the effort. And when you're done, you have this amazing one-bowl meal that is deeply satisfying and delish!
As a little side note... I wanted to give a shout out to Kimberley Hasselbrink, the talented cook and photographer behind The Year in Food. I got to meet Kimberley in person last week when she graciously invited me for lunch. She cooked up a few really tasty items from her upcoming book to be published by Ten Speed next year. If those bites were any indication, her book will be as delicious as her blog. I cannot wait to cook from it!
If you are going to prepare your own hominy, and not use the canned stuff, allow yourself soaking and cooking time before you get set to make the pozole. I suggest soaking your hominy the night before you want to cook. Then cook the hominy a few hours before getting started on making the rest of your pozole.
INGREDIENTS very slightly adapted from Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Today
- two 15 ounce cans cooked hominy, or 4 cups home-cooked hominy (8 ounces dry will yield approximately 4 cups)
- 1 large white onion, sliced thin lengthwise
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- bay leaf
- 3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (I'm sure you could also use breast meat, but I don't think the resulting broth would be as flavorful)
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed with warm water
- 1 -2 bunches fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon dried epazote or dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- avocados, chopped and tossed with salt and lime juice
- radishes, chopped
- small white onion, chopped
- additional chopped cilantro
- lots of limes
- more epazote, or crushed oregano
As I mentioned above, if you are using dried hominy, it needs to be soaked and cooked before you can make the pozole. I followed the instructions on the package.
In a stockpot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/2 sliced onion, 3 cloves garlic, bay, and a teaspoon of salt to the pot. Cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Next, add the whole chicken thighs to the pot. Skim off any foam that forms. Simmer very gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Use kitchen tongs to remove the chicken and set it on a platter to cool. Strain the broth and set it aside for later. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and set aside.
Grind pepitas in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. ( I think it's brilliant that this recipe uses these ground pepitas for a thickener for the stew.) Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups water with remaining 1/2 onion and tomatillos over high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Discard the cooking liquid and place the cooked tomatillos and onions into a standing blender along with 1/4 cup cilantro, 3 more cloves garlic, epazote, and 1.5 teaspoons salt. Blend thoroughly.
Heat canola oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pureed veg to the hot pan - be careful as it will be splattery. Cook the sauce uncovered, stirring regularly until it thickens - about 10 minutes. Add the ground pepitas and 1 cup of the broth reserved from cooking the chicken, stir and cook another 5 minutes.
Finally add the shredded chicken, cooked hominy, and 3 cups of reserved broth to the pot. Simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Season with additional salt to taste - though keep in mind that adding freshly squeeze lime to soup will add a nice punch.
Scoop warm pozole into low bowls and serve with all the wonderful garnishes. Damn, that's good.
I don't know about you, but I'm THRILLED spring is here. We've been buying ranunculus at Monterey Market lately. I'm so happy to see that organic flowers are finally starting to be more readily available. It's about time!