Pozole Verde! Mexican Stew with turkey or chicken and SO many other good things!
It’s Pozole Week here at Idiot’s Kitchen!
I bet you didn’t know you needed to celebrate Pozole Week, but trust me when I tell you that you do.
Pozole is a wonderful Mexican soup/stew usually made with pork and always made with hominy. Depending on the part of Mexico where you happen to be eating, Pozole can be red, green, or even white. It can also be made with pork (most common and coming next), chicken, or in our case, leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
I made the traditional Pozole Rojo, or red pozole with pork a few weeks ago and the post got delayed in the Thanksgiving hoopla of pies and turkeys. Then yesterday I decided that I needed to make space in the freezer so the turkey bones had to go. What a great opportunity to put them to use in Turkey Pozole Verde!
If all this Pozole talk is new to you, let me just say that this soup was amazingly good. It’s just a little bit spicy (Jim described it as mild) and the flavors are incredibly distinct and tasty.
Time to get on the Pozole bandwagon…
Here’s what you need:
Turkey Broth*, Turkey*, Onions, Tomatillos, Garlic, Jalapeño Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Cilantro, Hominy, Olive Oil, Oregano, Salt & Pepper (last 4 not pictured, sorry.)
Also not pictured are the ingredients for the garnishes – tomato, radishes, avocado, and lime are all traditional. You can also add another jalapeño, hot sauce, and peptias or pumpkin seeds.
*This can obviously be made with either chicken or turkey. PLEASE tell me you didn’t toss out those bones after the turkey did his thing for your Thanksgiving dinner. That’s what the freezer is for, my friends. Pick most of the good meat off the bones, toss them in a bag, and freeze them to make broth some other day.
Homemade broth is so easy and so much better than the canned stuff from the store. A more thorough discussion of Homemade Broth is HERE, but the short version is that you take your bones and put them in a huge pot. Fill with water to cover the bones and add an onion, a few ribs of celery, a couple of carrots, and some whole peppercorns. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for a couple of hours.
Poor Gus sat on this chair in the kitchen most of the day while the entire house smelled like turkey, his favorite thing. He got more than a few bites of turkey for acting as sous chef.
After your stock has simmered gently for 2-3 hours, remove the big bones and pieces of veg, and strain the stock into large bowls.
Look how much stock you get from 1 batch of turkey bones! This is at least 35 cups of broth. When you consider that one of the cartons from the store (which I love and use all the time because they are very handy) has 4 cups and costs about 3 bucks, it doesn’t take long to do the math. Plus, this stock tastes great and isn’t full of all kinds of additives used for canning or sitting in the store.
I used about 8-10 cups for this pozole and put the rest into the freezer in 8-10 cup containers so it’s ready to go for soup some other day. You could also make up some 1 cup containers then you won’t need the cans of broth from the store either.
Don’t we all feel like Martha Stewart now?
Okay, on to the main event…
Pozole takes its name from Pozolero or Hominy which is corn preserved in an alkaline solution of lime or wood ash. (thank you google)
We’ve used hominy before in Spicy Shrimp Tortilla Soup. It has a very mild corn flavor and it gets puffy when cooked so it’s much softer than regular kernel corn.
My grandma always used to serve hominy just heated up with butter, salt & pepper. Pretty tasty all on its own.
For extra flavor (and to take a little bite off the heat), I decided to roast some of my peppers. This step is optional but recommended. It’s easy to roast peppers either directly on a gas grill as shown here, on the burner of a gas stove, or in the oven under the broiler. Flame meets pepper and makes the skin black and charred.
I am roasting 2 poblanos and 1 jalapeño. When they’re nice and black and crusty, put the peppers in a ziplock bag (or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap) and let them steam for a few minutes to loosen the skin.
If you want to roast the peppers, start them first.
While they are roasting, chop 2 large onions. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onions over medium heat until soft and just slightly caramelized.
While the onions cook, take the papery outer skin off 1 pound (about 10-12) tomatillos, give them a rinse to remove the sticky residue on the outside, and cut them into quarters.
The papery skin usually peels off with no problem, but to make things even easier, you can run the tomatillos under warm water and the skins slip right off.
Tomatillos, cilantro, and our peppers are what makes this pozole VERDE or green.
(Do you know how hard it is for a musician who plays a lot of opera to not type Verdi? I’ve had to correct myself way too many times so far.)
If you’re not familiar with tomatillos, they are very close relatives of the green tomato but have a very mild flavor. They are the main ingredient in green salsa.
Place your quartered tomatillos in a food processor or sturdy blender. Add 1 whole bunch of cilantro leaves – I just chopped off the bottom stems but didn’t bother to strip the leaves as the top stems are tender and tasty.
If I just lost half of you because you hate cilantro, you could probably substitute flat leaf parsley but to me this didn’t have a cilantro taste at all. There are so many other flavors, the cilantro just adds to the green mix.
Give everything a whirl to chop and blend.
Remove the seeds, stem, and inner membranes from the remaining jalapeño and add it to the tomatillos.
Add 5 cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Process or blend until mostly smooth and super green.
Check back in on the onions. Soft, golden, and just a bit of caramelized flavor…
Pour the tomatillo mixture into the onions.
Peel the blackened skin off the poblano peppers and jalapeño and remove the seeds and stems. Grind up the roasted peppers in the food processor and add them to the soup pot.
Add 3 (15 oz.) cans of drained and rinsed hominy
and 8-10 cups of your good turkey broth. The hominy puffs up as it cooks so you might need slightly more or less broth.
If you still have some leftover turkey (I freeze some of that as well), chop or shred it and add 4-6 cups to your soup.
If you don’t have any leftover turkey or chicken, you can cook a couple of chicken breasts (or a half a small turkey breast) at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes then shred the meat.
Season to taste with salt & pepper and add 1 teaspoon of oregano.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the hominy is puffy and tender.
One of the unique things about pozole is that it is always served with a variety of fresh garnishes or toppings. This helps to perk up the flavor of the soup and also adds a little extra crunch.
It’s fun to let everyone add their own toppings. Thinly sliced radishes are a must for authentic pozole. Other options are shredded cabbage, pepitas or pumpkin seeds, diced tomatoes, avocados (so good!), and always a nice squeeze of lime. If you have people who like things extra spicy, serve some sliced jalapeños or hot sauce on the side.
This is absolutely one of my new favorite soups. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long, but I am now seriously devoted to all things pozole.
Thanksgiving leftovers have never had it so good!
This is REALLY good leftover, however the hominy continues to absorb the broth so you might need to add a bit of water when reheating just to thin things back out a bit.
Here’s the recipe: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe