Keeping Traditions Alive: How to Make Pozole Verde

Keeping Traditions Alive: How to Make Pozole Verde

Ten years ago while living in San Diego I decided to create a Day of the Dead altar to honor the memory of my father’s passing in a more formal way. Inspired by the lively celebrations in Old Town, I built my first ofrenda and invited some friends and family to join in on the festivities. They were tasked with bringing photos and mementos of their loved ones while I prepared one of my favorite Mexican dishes, pozole.

Not many are aware that much like the Day of the Dead, pozole is a dish that dates back to Mesoamerican times and was prepared by the Aztecs for special celebrations. Pozole is a Nahuatl word that means hominy, which is derived from corn. According to legend, pozole used to be made with human flesh, but after the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1500s it was replaced with pork. Pozole continues to be a festive dish that is prepared on special occasions and hominy is always a star ingredient. Like spirits that live forever, these cultural and culinary traditions survive by those that breathe life into them within their homes and communities.

As time passes, my own experiences with pozole have evolved and taken on a life of their own. I first tasted pozole blanco while visiting Guadalajara for a summer research project. Having grown up eating red pozole, I was gripped by the fear of the unknown and was taken aback by the soup’s lack of color. Once I got over my own inherent bias, I realized it was one of the best pozoles I had ever tasted and subsequently ran up my restaurant tab by eating at that very same restaurant every day of my trip.

Since then, my palate has expanded to include pozole verde, and even vegan pozole made with mushrooms – both are to die for! My tía has shared her pozole verde recipe that I will now be handing down to you. Unlike my mother who always has to give my tía a holler each time she makes the recipe (it’s probably just an excuse to get in a quick chisme session!) I jotted it down digitally for your convenience. Like with many Mexican recipes and traditions that are passed on through the generations, I’ve adapted this one to my taste and to the ingredients I have accessible. Now it can be preserved for the following generations to make this holiday season and beyond. ¡Provecho!

At Kroger family brand grocery stores, I’m able to find the ingredients I need to create delicious and affordable meals that highlight my heritage. The best part is that I’m able to order all of my groceries online and schedule my pickup for free – a much-needed time-saver especially with two little ones at home.

1.5 pounds Simple Truth Organic chicken thighs
1.5 pounds Simple Truth Organic boneless and skinless chicken breast
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 head garlic, top and outer peels removed
4 celery stalks with leaves
5 15.5-ounce cans Kroger White Hominy, drained and rinsed

1 Anaheim chile
1-2 jalapeño or serrano chile peppers
1 small green bell pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound tomatillos, about 8 total, peeled and halved

1 cup Kroger baby spinach
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Simple Truth Organic Oregano Leaves
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 Private Selection Turkish bay leaves

Sliced radishes
Shredded cabbage
Simple Truth Organic Oregano Leaves
Simple Truth Organic Crushed Red Pepper
Fresh limes, quartered

2 large stock pots
Large wooden spoon or spatula
Comal or pan for roasting chiles
Metal strainer
Bowls and spoons for serving

SERVES: 8-10

In a large stock pot, bring chicken, onion, garlic, and celery to a boil with 4 liters of water over medium-high heat. Lower to medium heat and cook for 30 minutes. Lower heat once again to lowest setting and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Once chicken is fully cooked and pot is cool enough to handle, strain broth and reserve chicken. Discard onion, garlic, and celery. Once slightly cool, shred chicken.

In the meantime, toast chiles on a comal or over an open flame until lightly charred all over. Alternatively, you may broil them in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until blistered and slightly blackened. Place chiles in a plastic bag and allow to “sweat” for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the charred skin by hand or by scraping lightly with a dull knife. Remove seeds if a less spicy pozole is desired (I leave them in!).

Place chiles, bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatillos, spinach, cilantro, and oregano in blender with just enough water to get your blender going. Blend until completely smooth, about 60 seconds.

In a separate pot, heat oil over medium to high heat. Once hot, add green salsa mixture and sauté for five minutes, moving frequently to avoid burning. Lower heat to lowest setting and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Once green salsa has reduced slightly, add chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 30 minutes over medium-high heat. Next, add hominy and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes. At this point your pozole broth is ready, but you can keep it on the lowest setting until ready to serve.

Pour hominy and broth over shredded chicken. Garnish with sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, dry oregano, crushed red pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve alongside warm corn tortillas with butter or crispy tostadas and crema or Creamy Avocado Salsa. ¡Provecho!

This recipe makes a large batch of pozole to serve a small crowd. You can always half the recipe or make it in its entirety and freeze the broth and hominy to enjoy at a later date, that way all you have to prepare in the future is the shredded chicken. Alternately, you can prepare the salsa mixture and freeze it until you’re ready to make pozole.

Many thanks to Kroger for sponsoring this post. As always, the recipe and opinions shared are my own.

Photography + Styling: Cacey McReavy

4 thoughts on “Keeping Traditions Alive: How to Make Pozole Verde”

Leave a Reply