Chicken Pozole Rojo for Daring Cooks

I realize that some (well okay most) might consider this a soup, however it is more than that, much more - a stew, a braise, a hearty meal garnished with fresh herbs and vegetables, a Mexican National treasure.  So, maybe I can be excused.  Originally  from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, where pozole, is practically the state dish. While in California and New Mexico pozole is traditionally served on Christmas eve, in Guerrero it is served every Thursday and Saturday, all year long..  I think I could handle that.

Dry hominy corn kernels, which add an incomparable corn flavor to this soup, are soaked overnight and next day cooked for several hours, (though many recipes just call for canned hominy and you can do that) then added to the meat, which has been braised separately.  It can be pozole blanco, in which case chicken is used and there are no red chilies or tomatoes in the braise.  So rojo, as you might have gathered, is red.  Previously I had made a pork version, which was delicious, and so wanted to try chicken this time. 

This was soooo good, I especially enjoyed the contrast of a savory stew with the fresh toppings, an assortment including slices of avocado, radishes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.  With tortilla chips on the side.

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
I have done braising almost all of my cooking life, which number of years we won't go into here, but suffice it to say, a lot.  At any rate, it was pozole I wanted to make for this challenge.  It was chicken that I had.  Other slow, braise-worthy meats were not available in a naturally raised, sustainable organic incarnation.  So, here we are.

Chicken Pozole Rojo

Ingredients - Serves 4.

    * 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, approx.
    * Salt
    * 1 onion, sliced in half
    * One 1 lb.13 ounce can of hominy, drained and rinsed, or 12oz. dry, rinsed and soaked
    * 15 oz. can tomatoes
    * 1 ancho chili pepper, seeded, stem removed
    * 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
    * 1 to 2 Tbsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it) I used fresh Mexican

    * 1/4 whole cabbage, thinly sliced
    * 1 tomato, cored, chopped
    * 1 avocado, peeled, chopped
    * 1 onion, peeled, chopped
    * 1 large bunch cilantro, or you could use arugula or watercress, chopped
    * Mexican cheese, Queso Fresco, sliced
    * Several red radishes, thinly sliced
    * 2 limes, or lemons cut into wedges
    * Chopped seeded jalapeno or serrano chiles, or other chile peppers (optional)
    * Tostadas or tortilla chips

If using dried hominy, cover with water and soak overnight.  Next day,  bring hominy and 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until pointed tip can be pinched off and hominy is tender, about 2 to 3 hours.  Add the chili pepper to soak in the hot water and let stand.

Ancho chili pepper soaking with the hot hominy

Place chicken pieces in a large pot, cover with about 3 quarts of water. Add one onion, sliced in half, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot, and cool enough to handle. Use a fork to pull chicken meat away from the bones. Discard the skins. Set the meat aside and return bones to the stock pot. Continue to simmer the bones, uncovered, for another half an hour.

Take half of the hominy and place into a blender.  Be sure it is is very tender because adding acid at this point will prevent further softening.  Add the canned tomatoes, 4 peeled cloves of garlic and chili pepper to the blender and blend until completely puréed.
Skim foam and excess fat from the surface of the stock. Remove bones and any solids from broth and discard. Pour in the blended hominy to the pot. Add the remaining whole hominy and 2 Tbsp of minced oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 20 minutes.

While the hominy is cooking in the stock, prepare your garnishes. Arrange on a large platter or in several small bowls. Right before serving, shred or chop the cooked chicken meat and add it back to the pot. Add salt to taste.

Serve pozole in individual bowls topped with the garnishes of your choice, with tostadas (flat fried corn tortillas) or tortilla chips on the side.  The glass of Sangria is totally up to you.  But nice.


wendyweekendgourmet said...

This looks DELISH...so glad to be in Daring Cooks with you! Looking forward to sharing more challenges with you down the road!

Susie Bee on Maui said...

Aloha Claudia! Love the Pozole Rojo-very clever recipe for this month's challenge. And, yes I'll have a glass of the Sangria.

Oggi said...

Wow! This looks fantastic. I'm not into Mexican food but this dish I'll definitely enjoy with a glass or two of sangria.:)

Renata said...

I learned so much from your post, I love reading about foreign food and their traditions! What a great dish for this month's challenge, bravo!

blepharisma said...

Your pozole looks delicious! I wouldn't have thought of that kind of recipe for the braising challenge - but it seems braising is used in everything! :)

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Your pozole looks wonderful! I've really been wanting to make this for a long time - with your inspiration, am going to do that soon!!

nancy said...

OH! So thankful you posted this Claudia! Sunny just raved about this soup!

Kirsten Lindquist said...

ohh, this looks so good, thanks for sharing!

Esther said...

Hi Claudia

this looks really nice, just one stupid question, what exactly is hominy? Not the same as simple corn? I hope i can find it in Germany :-), cause I really would love to make this dish, looks great, thanks for posting

Claudia said...

Thanks all, and Esther, I've added a Wikipedia link for hominy. Note you may also want to read their info on pozole, though it is a bit gruesome, having to do with ancient Aztec sacrifices which traditionally accompanied the grain.

Poisonive said...

MMMM - this was a fabulous twist on the braise! Well done. So glad you enjoyed the challenge

esthercooks said...

hmm so not regular corn then. I will have to check my asian store, hopefully they got it (they got a lot of non-european stuff, also from south america), and at the same time i can then look for chipotle peppers, they are also not easy to get here, thanks anyway, in the worse case i will try and make your recipe with regular corn