Friday, February 18, 2011

Posole Rojo Con Pollo

"It’s a dessert, and a floor wax!!!" If you are old enough, you will remember the SNL skit that made this funny. If not, then bear with me.

Posole is treated corn. But it is also a stew, and last night I took my first swing at an authentic simmered Posole stew. And, if I risk injuring my arm by patting my own back, so be it.


One dish meals have always had a pull over me. They can be so simple, and yet so complex and satisfying. Layer after layer of flavor and texture can be added and continue to evolve over time. I think I am also drawn to o them because we did not get many of them when I was growing up – my parents favoring the more traditional, Escoffier balanced plates. Which is a shame, these one pot dishes are endemic to almost every culture and I would have like to try more as a kid from my own background.

But for last night, I adopted the southwest of the United States. Having found some true posole online through ranchogordo(check it out, this guy is really committed to his food mission), I decided to go for a con pollo recipe to start. I am sure my next one will be pork centric (always loving the porcine) but a few posts got me interested in keeping the flavor of the posole front and center and I knew the chicken would play a more supporting character, as opposed to pork that would insist on a staring role.*

As expected, the dish really bought out the earthy and unique flavors and aroma of the treated corn. I had always associated SW cooking with the smells of corn tortilla and tamales, but the essence of corn produced by cooking posole is like those other smells multiplied. You could have closed your eyes and been in Santa Fe.
I also managed (for once) to get the heat factor just right – surprising since I swagged the number of peppers. In the end, this dish was just a total winner/crowd pleaser. It will go into regular rotation and only continue to improve.
* there was agreement that a pork version would add some nice richness/fattiness but that the chicken version had a nice, clean flavor. This is a lean dish.

Posole Rojo Con Pollo
1 3-4lb chicken
2 cups dry posole
1 can Chioptle peppers in adobo
2 mild red dry chilis, soaked, seeded, destemmed and pureed in ¼ cup water.
2 onions
1 TBSP cooking oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
1tsp cumin
1 tsp mild chili powder
2 bay leaves
Diced radish
Green onions
Red onion
Queso blanco
Sour cream/yogurt
Poach whole chicken (30 minutes on boil, then steep for 1 hour). Let cook and pick off all meat, retain the stock.
Soak Posole overnight in water, retain water.
Rough chop onion and sautee in oil in heavy bottom stock pot
Add in tomato paste, garlic, pureed peppers, one diced chipotle and 1 tsp of adobo sauce
Sauté until cooked through
Add in stock from poached chicken, soaked posole and chicken meat
Add enough of the retained posole soaking liquid to cover by 2-3 inches, add in dry spices and bay leaves
Bring just to a boil, and then simmer at the lowest setting, with lid slightly ajar, for 2 hours.
Serve with garnishes and tortillas and beer.

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