Red Chicken Pozole

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Pozole and Hominy Stews

When cooking chicken pozole, it’s best to use dark meat, as breasts can overcook in an instant. If you insist on using white meat, be sure to time the cooking and remove it after 25 minutes of gentle poaching. Legs and thighs are much more forgiving and, if you go over the suggested cooking times, it’s not generally a problem.

You easily can cut a whole chicken into parts. I really like using chicken feet in the broth, and I save chicken backs in my freezer for just this kind of dish. There are no hard rules here.

I know of cooks who cook the whole dish in one pot but I think it’s hard to de-fat the broth, and the flavors can get muddy. Preparing the different components, mostly a day ahead, and then marrying them right before serving time keeps the flavors more distinct.

FOR THE MEAT AND BROTH:

  • 4 skin-on chicken thighs
  • 4 skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 1 chicken back
  • 2 chicken feet, chopped
  • ½ of an onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 black peppercorns, roughly cracked
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
FOR THE CHILE PASTE:
  • 2 ancho chiles, wiped clean with a moist towel
  • 3 guajillo chiles, wiped clean with a moist towel
  • ½ of an onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons oil or lard

TO FINISH:

GARNISHES:

Serves 8 to 12

FOR THE MEAT AND BROTH (BEST DONE A DAY AHEAD):

  1. In a large stockpot over high heat, combine the chicken thighs, drumsticks, back, and feet; onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer, using a lid to help regulate temperature as needed. Cook until the chicken is done, about an hour. If you’re substituting chicken breasts, remove them after 25 to 30 minutes so they don’t overcook.
  2. Remove pan from heat. Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Once cool enough to handle, separate the meat, discarding bones and skin.
  3. Strain the broth into a very large bowl; cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, until fat rises to the top of the bowl and congeals. Remove the fat and reserve for another use.

FOR THE CHILE PASTE:

  1. Cut chiles in half; discard seeds and stems. In a small saucepan, warm 2 cups of water over medium-low heat; turn off heat when the water is hot. Meanwhile, warm a dry comal or skillet over medium heat; toast the chiles quickly, taking care not to let the chiles burn. Soak the toasted chiles in the pan of warm water for 15 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.
  2. In a blender, combine the chiles, onion, garlic, and enough of the strained chile-soaking liquid to allow the blender blades to move. Blend well, scraping down the paste as needed. Use a wooden spoon to push the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding skins and seeds.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chile paste and stir immediately. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired.

TO FINISH:

  1. To the pot with the chile paste, add the reserved meat and the drained cooked hominy. (If you are using canned hominy, rinse the kernels before using and discard the liquid.)
  2. Slowly add about 6 cups of broth, enough to make a soupy stew, stirring constantly. If the pozole is not soupy enough to your liking, slowly add the reserved hominy-cooking liquid (or tap water, if you used canned hominy) or more broth, until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the ingredients are warmed through, about 20 minutes (or a bit longer if you’ve pulled your chicken and corn from the refrigerator).
  4. Ladle into bowls and serve with your preferred garnishes.
How to cook dried hominy: Sort and rinse hominy. Soak for 8 hours in cold water, then drain. Add to a large pot with 1 roughly chopped onion and cover with 2 inches of fresh water. Bring to a hard boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook hominy uncovered until chewy and tender but not chalky, approximately 2 hours. Hominy usually flowers, like popcorn, when finished. Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid for later use, then drain. One pound (or 2 cups) dried hominy yields about 7 cups when cooked, and substitutes for canned hominy in recipes with none of the rubbery texture.


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