Posole is a Mexican stew that contains hominy — large white corn kernels, the same kind used for grits — and is typically made with pork in a tomato-y base. But it is a dish that lends itself to variations, and green posole “verde,” with its striking balance of deeply savory and lively, bright flavors, has always enchanted me.
The accompanying recipe brings all that to the table, but rather than taking a half-day to cook the traditional way, this one — thanks to a few strategic shortcuts — comes together in less than an hour.
Instead of tomatoes, posole verde calls for tomatillos, which look like small green tomatoes with papery skins and have a mouthwatering tangy flavor. You just remove their husks and rinse and rub off their lightly sticky coating, then cook them with onions and garlic until they are tender. The softened tomatillos, onions and garlic (whose flavor deepens and mellows when prepared this way) are pureed with toasted pumpkin seeds, which add a creamy richness to the dish, plus jalapeño, cilantro and oregano.
The flavor-packed puree is cooked down for 15 minutes until it has deepened in flavor and color, and that’s when the shortcuts come into play: chicken broth (homemade if you have it), two cans of hominy, which are akin in convenience to using canned beans, and cooked, shredded chicken breast, perhaps left over from a store-bought rotisserie bird.
They are added to the tomatillo puree, and everything is simmered together until warmed though. The posole is served with an array of garnishes, such as cilantro, lime (a must), radishes, onion and avocado, that make the dish pop with color, texture and flavor. The end result is a meal in a bowl that can make any weeknight feel like a special occasion.
Chicken posole verde
FOR THE POSOLE
1 pound tomatillos, stemmed, husked and rinsed well
½ small white onion
3 cloves garlic
½ cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 to 2 medium jalapeño peppers, stemmed, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
Two 15-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (from a 3-pound rotisserie chicken)
Fresh cilantro leaves
Flesh of 2 ripe avocados, diced or cut into chunks
Thinly sliced radishes
Chopped red onion
For the posole: Fill a 3-quart pot halfway with water. Add the tomatillos, onion and garlic; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 10 minutes or until the tomatillos are tender. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until they are fragrant and begin to make popping sounds. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a blender, along with the cooked tomatillos, onion and garlic; the jalapeño (to taste); cilantro; oregano; salt; and reserved cooking liquid. Puree until smooth.
Transfer the blended tomatillo mixture to a soup pot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and turned a deeper shade of green.
Add the broth and hominy; increase the heat to medium-high so the mixture returns briefly to a boil, then stir in the chicken; cook just until it has warmed through.
Serve hot, with the small bowls of cilantro, avocado, radishes, lime wedges and red onion.
Per serving: 320 calories, 25 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar