A little background on pozole: In the pre-Hispanic cacahuacintle (or “corn”) and hominy stew, the meat used to be human. In Aztec times, before the Spanish conquest, which outlawed cannibalism, the belief that the Gods made humans out of maize, a sacred crop, was popular. Eventually pozole, which came to be served as a Mexican Independence Day staple (the Nahuatl word means “boiled and foamy”), was made with tepezcuintle (or “sweet-water squirrel”). Today, it’s made many ways, with our oh-so-refined pork, chicken, or what have you. It’s a hearty meal (no pun intended) that every genuine lover of Mexican food – if they can be pried away from tortilla soup – ought to try.
Various styles of pozole hail from different Mexican regions – for example, it’s red, with tomato, in the state of Jacinto. But Mexico City-bred chef Rodrigo Bueno, based now in Baja Sur at the hotel Rancho Pescadero, prefers a green “pozole verde,” reminiscent of the type found in the state of Guerrero. Bueno’s is a hearty mix of hominy, dark-meat chicken, piquin peppers, and tomatillos, along with other stew staples like onions and greens. His passion for this dish comes from many family gatherings and travels throughout Mexico. He’s intent on home cooks using best-quality hominy, organic chicken, and fresh oregano and bay leaves as opposed to the dried stuff. “We have our own garden, where I can go every day to cut the product I need,” he says. “Discovering how nice it is to plant a seed and watch the growth process is a great thing. Every particle has energy.”
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• Six chicken thighs
• 3 cloves of garlic (minced fine)
• 1 white onion (thinly sliced )
• 1 red bell pepper (in 1/2-inch squares)
• 1 yellow or orange bell pepper (in 1/2-inch squares)
• 1 30 oz can white hominy (rinsed)
• 1 cup cooked white beans
• 2 cups quartered tomatillos
• 2 zucchini (cut in 1/2-inch rounds)
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp oregano
• Garnishes: lime wedges, chopped cilantro and onion, and thinly sliced radishes
In a heavy soup pot, brown chicken thighs in olive oil.
Render all fat from chicken; remove from pot.
Sauté onion, peppers, and garlic in oil and chicken fat until golden brown.
Add hominy, white beans, and tomatillos; cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove skin from chicken and discard.
Return chicken to pot with two cups water, zucchini, salt, and spices.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Season and serve with garnishes.