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Pozole verde (green pozole)

Time3 hours 10 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10
Pozole verde (green pozole) with condiments bottom left clockwise: oregano, lime, lettuce, serrano chile, onion and tostadas.
(Los Angeles Times)
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Pozole is easy to make, impressively showy and fun to eat. It turns up at celebrations in Mexico from Independence Day to birthdays, weddings and baptisms. The dish isn’t complete, though, until each diner splashes on more colors and flavors from an array of condiments. A squeeze of lime adds the zing of authority. Dried oregano crumbled into the hot soup sends out an intense herbal aroma. Dried or fresh chiles or a hot chile salsa spice it up. Chopped onion is a must. Shredded cabbage or lettuce give a cool crunch, and sliced radishes add a striking dash of red and white. Crisp, golden-brown tortillas already made into tostada bases are the traditional accompaniment.

What goes into the pot besides corn varies from place to place in Mexico, so there are different versions: green pozole in Colima, red or white pozole in Jalisco, seafood pozole in Veracruz and on the coast of Oaxaca. Pueblo Indians in the United States have their own versions.

From the story: Flash of radish, splash of lime

1

Place the nixtamal in a colander and rinse thoroughly. Pour it into a large Dutch oven or a heavy lidded pot, add 16 cups water and bring to a boil. Boil gently, loosely covered, 2 hours, or until tender. Do not allow the mixture to boil dry. Enough water should remain at the end of the cooking time to keep the nixtamal moist.

2

Meanwhile, wash the chicken. Place it in a heavy lidded pot with 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain and measure the broth, adding water if necessary to equal 8 cups. Shred the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Set aside the broth and the chicken.

3

When the nixtamal is tender, remove it to a bowl. Wash the pot, then return the cooked nixtamal to the pot.

4

Wash the poblano chiles and discard the stems and seeds. Cut into chunks. Wash the cilantro and cut off the tips of the stems. Place the chiles and cilantro in a blender jar and add 1 cup water. Blend until thoroughly pureed.

5

Slice 1 onion.

6

Add the chile-cilantro puree, the chicken broth, the sliced onion, the garlic cloves and 4 1/2 teaspoons salt to the nixtamal. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

7

Add the chicken and cook 15 more minutes.

8

Dice the remaining onion and place it in a small bowl. Arrange the lettuce, serrano chiles, lime wedges and oregano in separate bowls, and the crisp tortillas in a basket or bowl.

9

To serve, ladle the pozole into large soup bowls and add lettuce, chile slices, lime juice and oregano as desired, with tortillas to accompany.

Nixtamal is cooked and softened dried corn. It’s available in the refrigerated deli section of Latino markets and some supermarkets.