Chicken Posole Cooking Party: Comfort Food for a Crowd
The gradual shift from summer into fall brings with it cooler evenings and heartier appetites. We begin to crave warmer, more comforting foods like stews and soups.
Posole is a traditional Mexico stew, made with corn and meat, most often pork, in a flavorful broth. There are many versions, but the broth is most commonly red or green depending upon regional ingredients and influences. In Guerrero, is it common to see the addition of green tomatoes and green chiles, or Posole Verde. One of Posole's main components, no matter what the color, is hominy.
Hominy is basically corn kernels that have been processed so they lose their outer layer, and the corn kernels puff up when they are boiled. Corn was a sacred plant to Aztecs and the other indigenous people of Mesoamerica, and found its way through history into this stew.
Chicken Posole Verde is the perfect summer-to-fall transitional soup, because of its use of seasonal, late-summer produce like tomatillos, tomatoes, corn, and peppers. The soup's base is made with poblano chiles, tomatillos, chicken and hominy. It’s topped with a wide assortment of fresh ingredients, like cilantro, radish, avocado, pepitas, diced tomatoes, and shredded cabbage.
You can add or subtract any of these herbs and vegetables, among others, to make it as simple or as elaborate as you like. This Mexican stew is so flavorful and satisfying, yet easy to make. It’s the perfect thing to serve to a kitchen full of hungry dinner guests because, lets face it, that's where they'll congregate, especially as the weather cools.
A different and fun way to entertain is to create an interactive dining experience for your guests, where they prepare all of the components for the dinner- in this case, all the toppings for the stew -- themselves. As each guest arrives, hand them a glass of wine, and give them a prepping project in the kitchen. Have cutting boards and knives ready to go. Set up an area for them to mingle while they prep. Have one person dice tomatoes, another slice cabbage, and have someone else chop cilantro.
Getting everyone involved in the kitchen is a great way to break the ice, especially if guests are meeting for the very first time. I have found that people actually prefer having something to do with their hands in social situations, and giving them a project tends to stave off some of the social anxieties we all experience from time to time.
Posole is considered a celebratory dish in Mexico, often made for parties and large groups because it can be prepared easily and in large amounts. It makes for a great feast.
Chicken Posole Verde
- 8 cups flavorful chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 lb tomatillos, husked and halved
- 1 onion, quartered
- 3 poblano chiles—cored, seeded and quartered
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and quartered
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 1 bunch chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T olive oil
- 4 cups cooked hominy- or three 15 oz cans rinsed and drained.
Use any combination of the following: sliced avocado, Mexican sour cream, lime wedges, crumbled queso fresco, chopped scallions, toasted pepitas, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, diced tomatoes, crispy tortilla chips, fresh corn kernels, black beans, hot sauce.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, cover and simmer over very low heat until they're tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate and shred the meat, and return back to the stock.
In a blender, combine the halved tomatillos, quartered onion, poblanos and jalapeños, garlic, chopped cilantro adding 1 cup water to get the motor going. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary.
In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil and add 2/3 of the tomatillo puree ( reserving one third - leave in the blender) and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce turns a deep green, about 10 minutes.
Pour the cooked tomatillo sauce into the chicken stock pot. Add the 3 cups of the hominy (reserving 1 cup) and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Season with salt, pepper, coriander and cumin, and cook just until heated through.
Add the last cup of hominy to the blender with the reserved tomatillo mixture. Blend until smooth, and right before serving add to the soup- this thickens the soup and also will help keep the soup stay green and bright.
Serve the Posole in bowls, along with all the sides, letting people add whatever toppings they want.
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