My recipe for Chicken and Hominy Stew came about as a means to use leftovers and to prevent wasting ingredients from one recipe and another. I rarely prepare just one recipe per day so I frequently end up with leftovers from two or more dishes. From my younger, leaner years (in both body and bank account), I learned that almost everything can find a place in another recipe if one looks hard and long enough. Oh, and my grandmothers instilled that practice in me every time we cooked.
In the ‘60s, my grandmothers taught me the virtues of roasted chicken, chicken stock and chicken stew. “Alvays sav da bones!” they said. And I’m not even going to discuss the organs here—or the skimmed fat.
In the 70s, I learned from my disparate neighbors the value of enchiladas, chile verde sauces, pozoles, menudo and a variety of other stews and soups that were the recipients of the week’s leftovers including bones, organs and muscles. Each used a combination of animal parts and plants that wasted nothing and nourished the body with all the goodness that the earth offers up.
In the end, I ended up with a food combination reflecting a good wholesome chicken stew that incorporated the leftover chile verde sauce from my (now family famous) green chile enchiladas. This stew is the result of several recipes, my Latino comrades and mine, combined into a delicious and economical stew that is sure to please. We traditionally serve it with warm homemade corn tortillas but it goes just as well with toasted or warmed bread or cornbread. Try to avoid buttering the breads. Without all that grease on the bread or tortilla, they absorb the lovely flavor of the stew. Use them as a clean mop and be happy!
Chicken and Hominy Stew with Spicy Green Chile Tomatillo Sauce
Chile Verde Sauce (this is my traditional green chile enchilada sauce as well):
3 Anaheim chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 lbs. tomatillos, husks and stem removed
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced (optional for heat if you like it hot)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped finely (or more if you love it)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano (leafy, not powdered)
3 cups homemade (please) or fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
(Broth will be used in 1 ½ cup increments later so divide them. One portion is used for sauce; the other is used in the stew)
1 large onion, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
1 small red pepper, chopped (should fit into your hand)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, sliced
¼ cup all purpose unbleached flour
4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cubed (or 1 ½ lb. chicken thighs, cubed)
(Traditionally we roast a whole chicken and pick the meat off the bones but this is a streamlined version for easy use.)
1 large can (29 ounces) golden hominy, rinsed and drained
(Or corn if you don’t like hominy but only 12 oz. because of the sweetness)
1 ½ cups homemade (please) or fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Garnishes: (These are optional. Use them all, just a few or none.)
Chopped onion, sliced radishes, diced avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges for a squirt of juice, warm tortillas
Adjust oven racks for broiling.
Turn on broiler to preheat.
Line a large baking sheet with tin foil and rub it with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
Place your chilies skin side up on one-half of the baking sheet.
Put the tomatillos on the other half of the baking sheet.
Broil the Chiles for 5-7 minutes until the chiles are charred. They will be black!
Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile allow the tomatillos to continue to broil until they are blackened, for 10-15 minutes longer.
Turn the tomatillos about halfway through which may be when you remove the chiles if your oven is hot enough.
Remove the tomatillos from the oven when they are blackened and set aside. At this point, the chiles should be ready for peeling. Peel and discard their skins and toss the chiles into a blender or food processor. Add the tomatillos along with the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, oregano and 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth. Process until smooth and then add the cilantro. Process briefly again. Set aside.
For the Stew:
Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, about 2 -3 teaspoons swirled. Add the bell pepper, carrot, celery, onion, and sauté for 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. (This is my traditional sofrito for stew.)
Stir in the flour and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Do not let it brown. Put the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add half of the chicken to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the chicken browns. Remove the chicken to a bowl and add the other half of the chicken to the pan. Add more oil only if necessary to prevent sticking.
Add the cooked chicken back to the pan, along with the vegetable mixture, chile verde sauce, 1 ½ cup chicken broth and the hominy. Heat over medium high heat until boiling. Cover the stew, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Be sure to stir it occasionally to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
While the stew cooks, this is a good time to prepare whichever garnishes you would like to serve.
After about an hour, taste the stew and then season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Do not add more salt or pepper unless it is necessary.
We garnish it with fresh chopped cilantro, sometimes a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and a squirt of lime juice over the surface. Sometimes we mix it up with other choices from the garnishes mentioned above. Corn tortillas (or cornbread or homemade bread) on the side are a great accompaniment to sop up the leftovers in the bowl when the stew is almost gone. And that sauce is not to be missed so please mop it up!