Sunday, April 5, 2009

Posole with Eye of the Goat Beans and Shredded Chicken

Not too surprisingly, since I was raised and still live in southwestern Pennsylvania and did not even taste a taco until I was a junior in college, I had not tried posole until this past winter. I saw a recipe, and it looked very interesting, but I had a difficult time locating hominy until I finally found it at… WalMart. This was canned hominy, and I posted about the Posole Rojo a month or two ago.

Since both Jack and I really enjoyed it, when I saw this recipe for Posole with Eye of the Goat Beans and Shredded Chicken, and it used dried hominy, I decided to give it a try.

But, first, from those (like myself) who are uncertain about what posole really is, a Wiki-definition:

Pozole (from Spanish pozole, from Nahuatl potzolli; variant spellings: posole, pozolé, pozolli) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico and New Mexico. It is made from hominy, with pork (or other meat), chili pepper, and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbage, lettuce, oregano, cilantro, radish, avocado, lime juice, etc. There are a number of variations on pozole, including blanco (white or clear), verde (green), rojo (red), de frijol (with beans), and elopozole (sweet corn, squash, and chicken or pork meat).

Hominy itself is pretty interesting—corn kernels soaked in a lime-water solution, then dried and reconstituted. I initially didn’t know what to expect from the canned hominy, but I liked its chewy texture. I found dried white hominy at a Mexican grocery and it looked like the cracked corn in the birdseed mixture we put in the bird feeder. :)

Now this recipe is simple in its preparation, but it also takes some time. The hominy took only 2-1/2 hours to cook, but add in the toasting, soaking, and pureeing the chili peppers, then the actual preparation of the soup itself, and it was a bit time-consuming. Well worth it, mind you, but I am glad that I had my laptop in the kitchen so I could spend the downtime working.

Here is the dried, and cooked, hominy. Really, the cooked version is not as gloppy as it looks. Once the cooking water is drained, or in the case of this recipe added to the posole along with the hominy, the kernels are more... individual.

In my pantry is a package of dried New Mexico chili peppers, some of which I have used ground to in a recipe or two during this past winter, so I used them again for this soup. I find that it’s easy to toast dried peppers when, after they are split and the seeds are removed, they are toasted in a dry skillet with a small, heavy lid to weigh them down and press them flat to the heat.

The shape of the dried chilies indicated that I should soak them in a loaf pan.

I followed the recipe almost to the letter, except (and, yes, there is always an “except”!):

1) I used canary beans instead of those wonderfully whimsical-sounding Eye of the Goat beans.

2) Instead of purchased rotisserie chicken (which contains a lot of fat), I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts which I had poached, cooled in the broth, and shredded

3) I added ½ tablespoon of sugar at the end (the chilies seemed to be a little bitter)

4) I thickened the broth with 1½ tablespoons of arrowroot

We loved this! It was worth every bit of work. The broth is thick and rich and flavorful with the pureed chilies and all of the other ingredients blend together very well. I find that I really enjoy the texture of the hominy, which makes the soup vary hearty. Don’t forget the garnishes because they make the posole. We used shredded cheese, chopped tomato and avocado, and cilantro. This recipe made about 10 cups, so we are looking at a couple of more days of this wonderful stuff. No problem, there!

Also, if you cannot locate dried Anaheim or New Mexico Chilies, I think that Ancho chilies would work as well.

Following is the recipe as I copied it from Laura's post at The Spiced Life

Posole With Eye Of The Goat Beans & Shredded Chicken
Adapted from Heirloom Beans, Steve Sando

For the hominy:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup dried hominy

For the soup:
1 medium onion, chopped
4 dried Anaheim chile peppers (New Mexico is fine too)
boiling water to cover the chile peppers
2 T olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t Mexican oregano
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 15 oz can tomatoes, chopped or whole, drained (or if it is summer use 4 plum tomatoes)
2 cups drained, cooked Eye of the Goat beans (or any pinto type)
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
salt and pepper to taste

For the garnishes:
chopped cilantro
fried or soft corn tortillas, to taste (we like the crunch of the fried)
1 avocado, diced
1 lime, sliced into wedges
diced monterey jack or crumbled quesco fresco
sweet tomato relish or maybe some honey and chile pepper flakes
finely chopped onion

Cook the hominy by combining the chopped onion, dried hominy and water to cover by 2 inches in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer on medium low heat and cover, reducing the heat. Simmer for 3 hours, adding water if necessary to keep covered, or until the hominy is chewy tender. Season with salt toward the end of cooking. Set aside undrained.

Slit the dried chiles and remove the stems and seeds. Flatten them and toast them in a skillet over medium high heat, about 15 seconds per side. They will blister and lighten in color and become aromatic--but be sure they do not burn. place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water for 20-30 minutes.

Place the chiles into a blender with enough of their soaking water to puree to liquid the consistency of buttermilk.

Chop the onion for the soup. Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat it to shimmering. Add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and oregano and cook an additional minute, stirring. Add the chicken stock, chile puree, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the cooked hominy with 1 cup of its cooking broth to the soup. Return to a boil. Add the beans and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a squirt of lime if you think it needs it.

Ladle the soup into deep bowls and add the garnishes.