Thursday, January 09, 2014

Chicken posole verde

Chicken posole verde with kale (chicken pozole verde)

The other day I went to the store to buy some collard greens, but the store was sold out. In the produce department there was a large, colorful sign that said, “Collards are the new kale!” which may explain why there weren’t any left—everyone wanted to try this new, hip green. There was, however, plenty of kale.

Of course, like most Texans, I’ve been eating collards all my life. But I have to admit that prior to that day I’d never bought kale. Heck, I’m not even sure that I’d even eaten it despite its popularity and ubiquity the past couple of years. Mind you, I’m not averse to greens, but I usually opt for the ones that we grew—such as said collards, along with spinach, turnip greens, or Swiss chard—all of which made frequent appearances on my family’s table.

Because there weren’t any collards available that day, I decided it might not be a bad time to finally try kale. (I’ve always been a late adopter.) And since the store had plenty of it available, I picked up a bunch of lacinato kale, which is also delightfully known as dinosaur kale. (I imagine this green’s name is very popular with the under-five set.) I left the store with visions of kale salads in my future.

Chicken posole verde with kale (chicken pozole verde)

After a couple of crunchy, chewy meals with the kale, however, I still had a mess of the greens in my refrigerator and was getting kind of bored. It was time to do something different. Now, my first thought was to cook them with bacon. But since it’s the New Year and I’m trying to eat relatively light for a few weeks, I opted instead to throw a handful of the kale into a pot of chicken posole verde I had simmering on my stove. Wouldn’t you know? My mountain of kale seemed a lot more manageable, plus my soup looked festive with the greens swirling around the pot.

Before we go any further, let me tell you about this chicken posole verde. It’s a simple chicken soup with some tangy tomatillo salsa verde stirred in, along with posole—also known as hominy or spelled pozole, depending on where you're from—which gives the soup a toasted corn flavor. The flavors are much like your favorite plate of chicken enchiladas, yet in a more soothing form. Plus, its warmth makes it perfect for chilly weather and because it’s relatively light, it’s ideal for when you’re trying to undo some of the holidays’ excesses. This is a terrific soup for January.

Now, my new year usually begins with a bit of excitement yet trepidation—I’m thrilled with the possibilities ahead but a part of me also craves comfort and consistency—the antithesis of change and uncertainty. While this posole verde is very familiar to me, by adding an ingredient I’d never cooked with—kale—it seemed not only a bit daring but also like something new.

Chicken posole verde (chicken pozole verde)

You’re going to love this soup—it’s refreshing and bright, yet hearty enough to keep you satisfied. I realize it’s not completely traditional, but this doesn’t make it any less satisfying. And if you’re like me and have somehow avoided eating kale (though I’m pretty sure I might be one of the last people in America who hasn’t tried it before), you’ll appreciate this delicious introduction to such a healthy vegetable.

Here’s to delicious new beginnings. Change is good and I’m looking forward to this new year!

Chicken posole verde (chicken pozole verde)

For the broth:
1 3-pound whole chicken
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic
1 celery rib, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
8 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
8 allspice berries (or 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice)
1 leafy stem of cilantro
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

For the salsa verde:

1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, or 1 (10-ounce) can of tomatillos 

1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 jalapeƱos, seeds and stems removed, chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt

For the soup:
3 large kale leaves (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves chopped (about 3 cups)
2 (15-ounce) cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more if desired
Chopped cilantro, for serving
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced, for serving

To make the broth, place the chicken, breast side down, in a large pot, along with the onion, garlic, celery, peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, cilantro, bay leaf, and salt. Cover with 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salsa verde. If using fresh tomatillos, place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. They should be softened and a lighter green. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. If using canned tomatillos, skip this step. Place the tomatillos in a blender, along with either 1/4 cup of the cooking water or 1/4 cup of the canned tomatillos’ liquid. Add to the blender the onion, garlic, jalapeƱos, and cilantro. Blend until smooth. You should have about 2 cups. Add salt to taste.

Once the broth has cooked 45 minutes, turn off the heat, carefully remove the chicken with tongs and place in a large bowl. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the skin and the bones; chop the meat and discard the rest. You should have about 4 cups of meat. Salt the chicken to taste.

Meanwhile, strain the broth, discarding the vegetables, then remove the fat from the broth with a gravy separator. If you don’t have a separator, you can take a quart-sized plastic storage bag and pour some broth into it. Snip a bottom corner of the bag and drain the broth, stopping when you get to the fat layer that is on top. (You will probably have to remove the fat in batches). Return the broth to the pot; you should have about 12 cups. Bring the broth to a boil, and then cook until the broth has reduced to 6 cups, which will take 15 to 20 minutes. Once reduced, turn the heat down to a simmer.

To make the soup, add to the simmering reduced broth the salsa verde, chicken, kale, drained hominy, cumin, allspice, cayenne, and lime juice. After about 5 minutes, the kale should be greatly reduced. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste.

Serve garnished with cilantro and avocado. 


Yield: 10-12 servings

Notes:
1. If you want to make a quick version of this soup, you can use pre-made chicken broth, pre-made salsa, and 4 cups of cooked chicken.

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32 comments:

Celeste said...

I definitely want to try this. I have a feeling it won't be very long until a germ makes me feel like chicken soup is the only thing that I can manage to eat.

I have had kale slow-cooked in a 50-50 mix with chopped cabbage, and I feel that kale's a better partner than a stand-alone dish. The cabbage is softer and sweeter than the kale, and the white/green mix is pretty.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--This will definitely help heal what ails you, should you get sick this winter. And I still have some kale so I might try cooking it with cabbage.

Unknown said...

When do you add the salsa verde? At the table?

Heather M. said...

Sorry, what do you do with the salsa verde? I don't see it after the 2nd paragraph of instructions.

Adrienne said...

This looks delicious! But am I missing where to add the salsa verde? Does it go into the soup pot or is it garnish for individual bowls?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Adrienne, Heather, Unknown--Thank you! I can't believe I forgot that--y'all are good editors. I've fixed the recipe but you add the salsa verde to the broth when you add the chicken, hominy, kale, and other ingredients.

purplerangerfood said...

So does this mean that kale is the new collards? :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Purpleranger--Ha! Not for me, but perhaps for some.

Kate @ Almond Butter Binge said...

Yum! I am always looking for new ways to sneak kale into things, so I can't wait to try this recipe.

My favorite way to eat kale currently is sauteed with bacon, mushrooms and caramelized onions. Maybe not the most New-Year-friendly recipe, but it's delicious :)

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kate--That sounds like it would be really good with eggs and I think I just might have to try it your way for breakfast in the morning.

Amanda said...

yummmmm... my mom made a damn good pozole from a texas monthly recipe last year. this one looks like it might be close to being as good!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Amanda--Thanks!

Ileana said...

Happy new year, Lisa!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ileana--Happy new year to you, too!

Esgaroth said...

I love posole, although the 'recipe' I learned was basically a cheap cheat and good for an afternoon when there werent better ingredients to use. Like you, have never tried kale and am used to collard greens, but your recipe may be the one that gets me to try it. I always love dark green vegetables.

Totally off topic, I was wondering if you have ever cooked with longhorn beef?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Esgaroth--I haven't cooked with Longhorn beef.

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

This is a good posole. I made it last year and I will make it again. Thanks, Lisa!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Abbe--You're welcome!

Molly said...

Lime juice alert: my soup was perfect before adding, but actually spoiled with lj. I suggest adding a small amount and tasting instead of dumping all I as I did. I'll make it again, though as it was truly delicious. Thank you for the recipe!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Molly--I'm sorry you didn't like the lime juice. If you add a cup or so of water to the pot (or pre-made chicken broth) and cook it for about 15 minutes, it should reduce the lime juice's presence. That said, I've changed the recipe to reflect your feedback. Thank you.

Marina said...

I just had the most delicious kale for breakfast last Saturday at a new place near me called Chestnut. Ribbons of sauteed kale tossed with quinoa seasoned with tamari & green onions, Korean red chili paste on the side, topped with 2 BEAUTIFUL poached eggs. I'm not sure if I've ever had yummier kale!

kaprise.com said...

this looks amazing!! :) dinosaur kale is my favorite kale... mostly for the name too!

THE Tough Cookie said...

I'm so in love with this, I can't wait to try it. And don't be surprised if it becomes 'chicken matzoball verde'. It could be a really great addition to a Passover table.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Marina--That breakfast sounds incredible!

Karise--It's a great name, isn't it?

The Tough Cookie--Thank you, Gail! I love the idea of making this with matzo balls!

Shelley said...

I never thought of the term "late adopter" with food. But then, I'm a late adopter with everything. (I still read real books.)

via-ostiense said...

Sounds like the perfect remedy for the flu that's going around! Where do you get tomatillos in NYC? I got some from the Hispanic market in my neighborhood, but they smelled kind of suspect.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shelley--I still read books, too!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Via-ostiense--You can find tomatillos at most NYC-area grocery stores.

Anonymous said...

I have made this three times since you posted it (yes, that's once a week!)...it's so good! It's a perfect combination of inexpensive, bright tasting, nutritious...and hearty & warm enough for this last month in Texas. Thank you!

Greg in Houston said...

This recipe turned out very well for us. Thanks Lisa!

Anonymous said...

God bless Texas

Jeanne de Montbaston said...

Hello! I've loved your blog for years but somehow never commented on it (I am a luddite). Anyway, I know it's an old post but this seemed a good post to start with as I'm from the UK and over here, recipes suggest you substitute kale for collard greens as they're not easy to get. So it's funny to see it the other way around!

My favourite thing with kale is, you make little meatballs with pork, chile, ginger, garlic, lime and coriander, you fry them, you pour chicken stock over them and then you add the kale. Meaball soup. Mmm. But now I'm going to have to try this as it looks delicious!

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