Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken Pozole Verde

Pozole is a hearty Mexican soup or stew that come in several different styles (with pork or chicken, red, white or green). This recipe can be made either as a pozole, using hominy, or as a white chicken chili, using cannellini beans (or heck, use both). The tomatillos are optional, but add a nice tartness and more color.  You will be surprised that all the green chiles don't make it very hot, so feel free to up the spice level if you like. This serves 6 hungry people.

 This is the chicken chili style, which uses beans instead of hominy. 

3 lbs bone-in chicken, skin removed
2 large red onions, one half reserved for garnish
3 jalapeño chiles, one reserved for garnish
3 anaheim chiles
2 poblano chiles
5-6 tomatillos, husked
7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaping Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 cans white beans or hominy, rinsed and drained
1/2 bundle cilantro, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Oil or lard

3 limes, quartered (reserve juice of one)
1 c. thinly sliced radishes
1-2 avocados, diced or sliced
Jalapeños, diced
Mexican oregano, to taste
Thinly sliced cabbage
Black pepper
Corn chips or tostadas
Sour cream

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Fry them in some oil in a deep frying pan with a lid. Turn them a couple of times and once they are nicely browned on the edges (~10 min), add two peeled garlic cloves and cover the breasts with water. Bring just to a boil, turn off the heat, then put the lid on and let them sit undisturbed for 20 minutes. After they are cooked through, remove them from the liquid and allow them to cool, saving the broth for the soup.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from all the peppers. Dice one jalapeño and half of a red onion and reserve for garnish. Use a food processor to coarsely chop the remaining onion, peppers, tomatillos, and garlic together.

In a dutch oven, heat more oil and fry the chopped onion-pepper mixture with the cumin and coriander until it softens and begins to brown on the edges and the moisture is reduced. If you are making white chili, and not pozole, blend one of the cans of beans in the food processor with 1 cup of the liquid from the chicken. If you are making pozole, remove half of the cooked onion-pepper mixture and process it until it is smooth (or use a stick blender) and then return it to the pot.

Add the chicken broth and beans/hominy to the pot. Pull apart the chicken and add to the pot. If you make it my way there's a lot of chicken and not much broth, but you can add more water/broth if you like. Add the cilantro and juice of lime and adjust the salt and pepper.

Garnish with onions, peppers, radishes, avocado, cabbage, oregoano, etc... as you like. Eat with tostadas smeared with sour cream.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brown Lentil Soup with Cauliflower

Or "How to Make Brown Lentil Soup that Doesn't Taste Like Dirt".

Here in Morocco, Melanie and I have had the problem that we can't find anything other than brown lentils - she's asked locals, and looked around pretty extensively, and hasn't been able to find the much tastier red variety. However, after a lot of travel, we were desperately craving something simple and vegetarian like lentil soup, and so I did my best to come up with a recipe that wasn't just edible, but delicious.

1 smallish head cauliflower, cut into very small pieces
1 large carrot, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, minced
4-7 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
2 Tbsp olive oil

1.5-2.5 c. brown lentils, picked over and cleaned if they're sketchy
Water or broth sufficient for the quantity of lentils (I always just eyeball this)
2-3 bay leaves (depending on size and quality)
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)

Parsley (flat leaf is best), minced, 1-2 tsp per bowl of soup
Lemon wedges


Start by sauteeing the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat in a pressure cooker or heavy bottomed soup pan, then add the carrots, and then the cauliflower. Cook until everything is getting nicely browned around the edges, but without burning. Add the lentils, water/broth, cumin, and a good amount of both salt and papper. If you're using a pressure cooker, cover, wait until it comes to pressure, and then cook 20 minutes. If you're using a normal pot, simmer covered until the lentils are quite soft.

We don't have an immersion blender, but if you like you can blend the soup when it's finished cooking.

Serve the soup garnished with parsley, with lemon wedges on the side. The parsley really isn't optional - it makes the soup that much more delicious and fresh. It makes a soup that seems wintery much more summery.