[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]
If you’ve ever cooked that great Rick Bayless recipe for pozole verde, the Mexican meat and hominy soup flavored with green chilies and tomatillos, you’d know that it’s a beast. The truth is, unless you’ve got the day off, cooking pozole on a Thursday is nothing more than a sueño imposible. My goal was to come up with a recipe that is not only delicious, but fast enough that it can reasonably be made on a Thursday night. The recipe I came up with may or may not be authentic, but it sure as heck is delicious.
Why It Works
- Streamlining multi-day, multi-pot traditional pozole recipes into a single Dutch oven makes this recipe doable on a weeknight.
- Searing the green salsa adds depth to its flavor.
- Pumpkin seeds add nutty flavor and a creamy texture.
- For the Soup:
- 3 ounces pumpkin seeds (85g; about 1/2 cup)
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken leg quarters (1.2kg; about 3 leg quarters)
- 1 pound tomatillos (450g)
- 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 1 Anaheim pepper, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 6 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (1.5 liters)
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican (about 8g)
- 2 sprigs epazote (optional)
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
- 1 (28-ounce; 800g) can white hominy, drained (see note)
- To Serve:
- Diced avocado
- Diced radishes
- Thinly sliced serrano or jalapeño peppers
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Finely chopped white onion
For the Soup: Heat pumpkin seeds in the base of a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until they start to pop and smell nutty, about 4 minutes. Transfer pumpkin seeds to a bowl and set aside.
Add chicken, tomatillos, onion, peppers,chicken stock, oregano, epazote (if using), and a large pinch of salt to the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a bare simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken and vegetables are completely tender, about 40 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to a large plate or bowl and set aside. Discard epazote sprigs (if using). Set a large fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the broth through it. Transfer solids to the jar of a blender. Add pumpkin seeds and cilantro to the blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Set aside.
Using a ladle, carefully skim off a few tablespoons of fat from the strained stock and add it to the Dutch oven (it’s okay if a little stock gets in as well). Heat over high heat, swirling and stirring until the watery stock completely evaporates and starts to form a browned layer in the bottom of the pan. (It will spatter a bit. The more you stir, the less it will spatter.) As soon as the chicken fat starts to smoke, pour in the contents of the blender all at once and cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds (it will spatter a lot—wear an apron!). Immediately pour in strained chicken stock and fat and stir to combine. Bring to a bare simmer, stir in hominy, season to taste with salt, and keep warm.
By this stage, the chicken should be cool enough to handle. Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces with your fingertips. Stir the picked chicken back into the soup.
To Serve: Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with diced avocado and radish, sliced chilies, chopped cilantro, and chopped white onion. Serve immediately.
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