Holy cow. I knew posolé was a New Year's tradition but in researching *why* I had no idea the horrors I'd uncover. As if the use of pig's feet in several recipes wasn't unsavory enough, get this: Wikipedia states that pozole was intended for consumption on special occasions by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerica inhabitants. After they'd kill their prisoners (by tearing out their heart in a ritualistic sacrifice), the rest of the (human!) body was chopped up and cooked with corn. The meal was shared by the whole community as an act of religious communion. Years later, after cannibalism was banned, pork became the replacement meat because some Spanish priest said it tasted "very similar."
Once I made it past all the human consumption business, I found the reason posolé is a New Year's tradition--it brings good luck. Good luck, perhaps, that you don't become chopped up into next year's posolé? Yeek!
It didn't bring David luck when we played Scrabble last night (sorry, Chicken!). But I kinda think he was lucky that a hot lady made him a big bowl of soup for dinner. Bonus: not the kind made out of humans.
There are so so so many different types of this Mexican stew--red, green, chicken, pork and every combination of the four. And not only do people seem really devoted to their version, they're very quick to disparage someone else's. I decided to combine a couple recipes that looked good (and somewhat healthy) to me and I think it turned out delicious. One of the many reasons I'm devoted to my version? It tastes nothing like people.
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, organic if possible
2 quarts chicken broth/stock
1 brown onion, quartered
1 1/2 large white onions, chopped
one head garlic, 4 cloves removed and then halved width-wise through the cloves
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 t dried oregano
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (leave the seeds in for more heat, if desired)
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped (leave the seeds in for more heat, if desired)
1 cup cilantro leaves and fine stems
1 1/2 cans hominy, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
small bunch radishes, cut into small matchsticks
several romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
Okay. First we're gonna make a version of the Doctored Broth I've made before. This is the best way to fortify store-bought chicken stock and bring kick-ass depth of flavor:
Remove all the meat from the rotisserie chicken. Shred it, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for later. Combine all the bones and skin (discard all the creepy parts) in a big soup pot. Add the chicken stock and bring the heat to high. Meanwhile, quarter the brown onion, chop the carrots and celery into large chunks and throw all that in the pot along with the bay and oregano. Take 4 cloves of garlic out of the head and set them aside for later. Slice what remains of the garlic head in half width-wise and throw it in the stock too. [Note--it's fine to leave the skin on the onions and garlic.] When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 2-3 hours.
Husk, rinse and halve the tomatillos. Whiz them up in a blender (with a little broth if needed) until they are pureed. Keep in the blender and set aside.
Heat 2T olive oil and saute the onions, chiles and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add this mixture to the tomatillo puree in the blender along with the cilantro. Blend it all together until smooth. Return the mixed puree back to the sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly (because it bubbles and splatters otherwise) for about 7 minutes, until the mixture becomes a brighter green and all the flavors come together. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Strain the Doctored Broth first through a colander and then through a finer strainer. Discard all solids. Place the broth back on the stove. Add the tomatillo/onion puree and let that simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add the lime juice. Drain and rinse the hominy and add it. [Note--the hominy will thicken the soup the longer it cooks. So best to add it 10-15 minutes before serving.] Add the chicken and cook until heated through. Serve topped with a big handful of lettuce and a sprinkling of radishes and onions. Add more lime and chips crunched on top if desired.
Here's to a 2012 with lots of luck and lots of good soup!