Slow Cooker Posole
Red Mexican Hominy and Chicken Soup
If the only thing you know about Mexican food is tacos and enchiladas, then its time to try pozole. Pozole, or posole, is a hominy-based stew or soup that is common in Mexico and the American Southwest. The traditional dish is often served on special occasions like birthdays, holidays, and weddings. And this simple, hearty, and satisfying slow cooker version is fantastic.
There are three types of pozole:
Pozole Verde — Green pozole gets it color from tomatillos, epazote, cilantro, jalapeños, or pepitas.
Pozole Rojo — Red pozole gets it color from chiles such as guajillo, piquin, or ancho.
Pozole Blanco — White pozole is simply made without the ingredients that lead to a red or green stew.
Pozole can be prepared in many ways and no two recipes are alike, but every version will include broth, hominy, garlic, spices, and typically pork, or sometimes chicken. Pozole is served with garnishes like shredded lettuce, cabbage, radishes, avocado, crumbled queso fresco, or lime wedges — and the choose-your-own-topping adventure is always fun for kids.
Like any other recipe, you can alter pozole based on available ingredients and your taste preferences.
What is hominy?
Hominy is made from dried corn that has been treated with an ancient technique called nixtamalization, where it is soaked in an alkaline solution until the hulls are removed. Whole hominy looks like large puffed-up corn. Finely ground hominy is used to make the masa for corn tortillas. You can buy dried hominy, but the easiest thing to do is buy canned hominy — Juanita’s is a common brand.
Is hominy healthy? Yes, according to the University of Illinois, hominy is considered both a vegetable and a whole grain, and it is low-fat, high-fiber, and low-calorie. And the nixtamalization process actually makes corn kernels more digestible with B vitamins more bio-available.
In Mexico, pozole is traditionally made with a pig’s head and takes up to two days to prepare. The time-intensive nature of authentic pozole is why the dish is usually reserved for weekends or family celebrations — but the easy, streamlined slow cooker Pozole Rojo recipe below delivers big flavor and is perfect for a weeknight dinner anytime.
How to make Slow Cooker Posole
1 large red onion, rough chopped
1 cup baby carrots (about 10)
2 celery ribs, rough chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups (32 oz. box) low sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 (25-ounce) can hominy, rinsed and well drained
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Toppings: corn chips, shredded lettuce or cabbage, sliced radishes, diced avocado, sour cream, crumbled queso fresco, and/or cilantro
Place the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in your slow cooker. Using a fork, pull the chiles out of the can of chipotle peppers. Using the back of the fork, make a paste out of 1/4 of the peppers, use more peppers if you prefer more spice. Add the chile paste, the adobo sauce from the can (see notes below, your spice preference will determine how much to add), and the other spices to the slow cooker.
Stir in the broth, then nestle the chicken into the slow cooker. Cook on LOW until the chicken is tender and the broth is flavorful, at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours.
Switch the heat to HIGH. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a bowl. Remove and discard the veggies, or optionally use an immersion blender to purée some or all of the veggies into the broth. Stir in the corn, hominy, lime juice, and cilantro. Shred the chicken and add it back to the soup. Replace the cover, let the ingredients warm through and serve the soup in bowls with the toppings of your choice.
Leftover Pozole freezes great, so make a big batch as a freezer make ahead meal.
If you are unsure about the level of heat, start with using about 1/4 of the canned chipotle peppers and about 1/2 of the adobo sauce that remains in the can after removing the peppers. Then adjust to your preference in your next batch of soup. If you are concerned that your kids can’t handle any heat at all, you could leave the peppers out entirely and substitute a can of diced tomatoes that get puréed for a reddish color. Let your kids know they are eating “posole” and next time increase the spices.
Puréeing veggies into the broth is not a usual step, but it increases the nutritional content and gives the slow cooker version a heartier texture. Alternatively, if you want to keep the veggies but don’t have a blender, you could chop them at the start.
Adding the corn gives it a bit of sweetness that kids seem to appreciate, but you could use another can of hominy in place of the corn.
Recipe adapted from The New York Times Cooking: Slow Cooker Shortcut Chicken Pozole
Diana Kennedy is the world’s top authority on Mexican cooking.
The Splendid Table shares her Pozole Verde recipe from her cookbook The Art of Mexican Cooking.
“Road Tripping with Diana Kennedy” (The New York Times)
Rick Bayless is another top authority on Mexican food.
In Mexico, pozolerías, are small restaurants that specialize in making pozole.
All Things Hominy: An entire website devoted to the subject of hominy by a food archaeologist.