A do-ahead, Mexican-style soup loaded with tender chicken, toothsome hominy, and a killer tomatillo-based broth. Cinco de Mayo, here we come!
Fiesta! I love a dish that I can do completely ahead of time, especially for a party.
With Cinco de Mayo falling on a school night this year, I admit, our party plans for the Mexican holiday commemorating the defeat of the French in an 1862 battle are, well, tame… the 5 of us eating chips and guac, THIS insanely delicious soup and rounding it out with a tres leches cake. Then off to bed early!
It’s an interesting holiday, not widely celebrated in Mexico outside of Puebla where the battle took place, but VERY popular in the U.S. In fact beer sales for Cinco de Mayo rival those of the Super Bowl!!
Maybe you have plans? Or maybe you’re just looking for a great reason to mix up margaritas and and enjoy Mexican food! Whatever it is, you are going to love this dish!
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made with pork, but often chicken is used in its place, and I prefer it here, lightening the soup. Unless you regularly cook Mexican food, there are two ingredients in pozole of which you may not be familiar. Neither of them pose a hurdle for making this dish – they are both easy to find, and easy to work with.
Tomatillos are in the nightshade family (think: tomato, eggplant, peppers), a green fruit with a papery husk that is removed before cooking. They have a tart flavor, which you’ll likely recognize from green salsas and green enchilada sauce. Most grocery stores carry tomatillos nearby the tomatoes, or other ingredients such as chili peppers, avocados, and limes. Simply peel off the papery skin, remove the stem if there is one, give them a rinse and they are ready to use.
Hominy is the other ingredient that may not be in your culinary wheelhouse. Found in the section with Latin pantry ingredients, hominy is a specific type of corn that undergoes a process called nixtamalization. This preparation removes the husk and hull, and makes the nutrients in the corn more bioavailable. It’s how corn is processed to make tortillas and tortilla chips. Hominy has a more earthy flavor than regular corn, and a firm texture.
One last note about ingredients – this is about pumpkin seeds. Make sure you buy SHELLED pumpkin seeds, unsalted and not roasted. You do NOT want to shell all those seeds to get the quarter cup that you need, which would take forever!
Can I make this Pozole WITHOUT a slow cooker?
Absolutely. You will probably need more chicken broth as it will cook off more quickly on the stove, so plan for at least an additional cup, and up to two. Follow the directions through step 2. In step 3, sear off the chicken breasts in the oil, about 4-5 minutes per side, then remove from the pan. Add the tomatillo sauce from the blender, cook for a few minutes (being careful of the splatters, then add the chicken back in along with 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a low simmer and let it cook until the chicken is done, then shred the chicken with two forks, add the hominy, and continue with the recipe at step 6.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Pozole
- 1 pound fresh tomatillos husks removed
- ½ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 small jalapeno chili seeded, stemmed and diced
- ¼ cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds lightly toasted
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
- 14 or 15 ounce can hominy rinsed and drained
- Lime wedges
- Pickled jalapenos
- Sliced avocado
- Chopped cilantro
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Place the tomatillos on a foil lined baking dish and place under a broiler for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until slightly charred and softened. Let cool slightly.
- Blend together the tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeno and pumpkin seeds until pureed, working in batches if necessary. Be careful blending if the tomatillos are still hot, as the heat can cause the blender jar lid to pop off. Hold it firmly with a kitchen towel to protect splatters. If needed, you can add a little of the chicken broth to help the mixture puree, but typically the tomatillos have enough liquid to keep the blender moving.
- Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and when it’s hot, add the tomatillo mixture. Be careful as it will splatter and bubble. Give it a few stirs, then place the lid slightly ajar and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker along with the cinnamon stick. Pour a little of the chicken broth into the blender jar to get any remaining sauce out, and then pour it into the slow cooker along with the tomatillo sauce from the pot and the remaining chicken broth. Turn your slow cooker to low and set the timer for 4 hours.
- After four hours, use two forks to shred the chicken. Add the hominy and let it cook for another hour and up to two.
- Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. I find mine needs quite a bit more seasoning, however it all depends on the brand of chicken broth you use so adjust accordingly. Ladle into bowls and serve with optional accompaniments.