Chicken Tomatillo Pozole

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This tomatillo chicken pozole was originally began as a chicken tomatillo chili, but while it was bubbling gently on the stove, I spied two cans of white hominy in my pantry. Instead of the white beans intended for the chili, I opted for the hominy and I’m glad I did.  I loved the earthy chewy quality of the hominy, a perfect foil to the smoky rubbed chicken pieces and the sharp citrus like flavor of the  tomatillos.

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The Native American Indians used corn in many ways. Hominy is made from dried kernels of field  corn which undergo a process called nixtamalization, the removal of hull and the germ causing the kernels to puff up and soften. The kernels after drying can then be made into corn meal, hominy grits and other corn based products such as masa harina. Alternatively, the dried hominy can be softened by cooking and is used the soups, stews and casseroles. Pozole is not pozole without hominy which

Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian soup made with hominy and meat, traditionally pork, but chicken,and turkey are also used, along with chili peppers and other seasonings. Toppings for the finished pozole are endless-shredded cabbage, radishes, avocados, cilantro, tortilla chips and lime juice. It is often served at celebrations and is an acclaimed cure for hangovers.

 Chicken Tomatillo Pozole

2-2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons smoky chili powder, recipe follows
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
8-10 medium fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
1-2 fresh jalapeños, halved and seeds removed
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces) white hominy, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons masa harina
Additional smoky chili powder, if desired
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
To garnish- tortilla chips and additional cilantro

Rub the chicken pieces with the smoky chili powder. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, brown chicken pieces in batches, adding more oil if necessary. Remove chicken to plate. Lower the heat and to the pan, add the onion, sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic in the last minute of cooking.

In a food processor, grind the tomatillos and jalapeño together. Add to pan along with the browned chicken and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes on medium heat, taste and add more smoky chili powder if desired.  Add the drained hominy, reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes. If pozole is too thin, bring to a slight boil, and stir in the 1-2 tablespoons masa harina.

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Smoky Chili Powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled

2 tablespoons garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to an airtight container until ready for use. Keeps about 3 months. Makes 1/2 cup.


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