September 9, 2011 6:00 PM
Pozole: Try It Green!
POSTED IN: Recipes , Soups , Main Courses
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Red pozole, or Pozole Rojo, Jalisco style, has been my favorite pozole of all time. It is bold and gorgeous in every possible way. I am so attached to it, we even served it at our wedding.

For decades now, I've refused to replace it with another... And then, I tried a unique green version, Pozole Verde, Guerrero style. It has not surpassed my Pozole Rojo, but it is attempting to tie with it at my table. And that is a lot to say.

Treasured all around Mexico, pozole has many variations, mainly green, red and white. Each distinct and beautiful, and coincidentally, represent the colors of the Mexican flag. Since September is the month of Mexican independence and The Day of El Grito is just around the corner, there is no excuse not to find an excuse to celebrate! And in my mental Mexican dictionary, pozole equals celebration.

Pozole has been made for centuries, and according to Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, a Spanish missionary, Moctezuma -greatest Aztec Emperor of all times-, would honor the God of the Sun by eating and serving it. I don't know though, what color it was!

What makes a pozole red or green is the seasoning sauce added to the stew. If there is no sauce, it is a white pozole. Though there are many kinds of green pozole, they all use green ingredients, and this one has: tomatillosepazote (or cilantro if you can't find it), pumpkin seeds and jalapeños.

Making that green seasoning sauce is simple. Tomatillos, garlic and chile simmer in water until the color of the tomatillos changes from bright, happy and loud to a mellow green. The texture goes from firm, to very mushy, but not coming apart.

The toasted pumpkin seeds are ground, they are pureed with that cooked tomatillo mix and white onion. The pumpkin seeds give the sauce a nutty, velvety base. Then the sauce is taken a step further and simmered until it is seasoned, thickened and its flavors have concentrated. It must be powerful, as it will dilute in the pozole. See? The spoon on the left has the green sauce before it is seasoned.

sauce.jpgWhat is common about any pozole is not only the many garnishes that dress it at the end, but also the very large corn known here as hominy, and in Mexico as maíz cacahuacintle, also known as maíz mote and giant corn. It gives pozole its signature mealy bite.

Cooking hominy is simple, but takes a while, so it is available already cooked in cans or refrigerated bags if you do not feel like preparing it. This is how it looks when you buy it at the stores before cooking.

But I love to cook it at home. It is as simple as throwing it in a pot, covering it in water and waiting for it to "bloom".  Literally, when it opens up at the top, you know it's ready. 

Just like when cooking beans, add salt after they are cooked, or they will toughen up.

Then in a big pot, combine the cooked hominy, the shredded chicken that was simmered in a simple broth (complete recipe below) as much green pozole sauce as you want, and a leafy stem of epazote, which will have anywhere from 5 to 10 leaves. If you don't find epazote, add like 5 sprigs of cilantro. I personally add all the sauce. Then, you want to let all the ingredients cook together for about 20 minutes.

Once it is ready: dress it up! Radishes, lettuce, white onion, ground dried chile, oregano and quartered limes to squeeze juice on top, are placed at the table for you to choose. Tostadas to be munched on the side. And, in particular for the green pozole, green avocado and chicharrones (crispy pork rind), are often too, which gives it an extra crunch. If you find some, add it on!

Whatever you choose, do squeeze fresh lime juice onto it.

Pozole is so popular in Mexico that there are pozolerías, restaurants that only serve pozole. That would be like a restaurant in the US that only served chicken noodle soup! How is that possible? Take a bite into this one-stop meal. You'll see. 

P.S. Pozole tastes even better reheated. Great excuse for making the soup ahead of time. Also, watch out for this recipe: It serves a hungry party of 12. 

Pozole Verde
Makes 12 to 15 servings

White Pozole
1 pound dried hominy (the same as giant white corn or maiz mote pelado), rinsed)
1 head garlic
2 whole chickens, or about 6 pounds, cut up in serving pieces, rinsed (combine with pork butt or shoulder if desired)
1 onion
Couple fresh cilantro sprigs
1 tbsp kosher or course sea salt, or to taste

Green Pozole Sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
1 to 2 jalapeños, stemmed
1 fresh large leafy stem of epazonte, or 5 sprigs cilantro
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil

5 to 6 limes, cut in half
10 radishes, rinsed, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and thinly sliced
4 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and dried
Piquín Chile, or a Mexican mix of dried chiles, ground
Dried oregano, crumbled
Tostadas or Totopos

Place the hominy in a large soup pot with cold water at least 3 inches ontop. Take off the dried skin layers from the head of garlic and add it into the pot. Do not add salt, because the hominy will toughen. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer over low medium heat uncovered for 3 hours or until hominy is tender and has begun to "bloom" or open up. Alternatively, you can buy precooked hominy and continue from this point.

In the meantime, place chicken in a large soup pot and cover with at least 1 inch of water above. Add white onion, cilantro and a tablespoon of salt and bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until chicken is cooked and tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and the bones, and shred the meat into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, make the green pozole sauce. Place tomatillos, garlic and chile in a medium 3-quart saucepan. Cover with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer; cook until the tomatillos have changed color from a bright to a dull green and are soft but not breaking apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the cooked vegetables and set aside.

In a blender, add toasted pumpkin seeds and chop until finely ground. Then add the cooked tomatillos, jalapeños and garlic, onion, salt and reserved liquid. Puree until smooth. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Add the tomatillo sauce from the blender. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 to18 minutes, stirring occasionally, so it will thicken, season and deepen its color.

When the hominy is ready, incorporate the shredded chicken and its cooking broth. Add the green pozole sauce and the epazote or cilantro. Let it cook for 30 minutes more. Check for seasoning -at this point I always add more salt- and serve.

You may present the Pozole in a big soup pot and place the garnishes in smaller bowls on the side. Each person can serve Pozole in their individual soup bowls, and then add as many garnishes to their soup as they would like. I do, however, recommend that some fresh lime juice be squeezed into it! Tostadas or Totopos are eaten on the side.

Yum!! Pati. My mouth is watering. I am going grocery shopping today and plan on making the white Pozole tomorrow.

Beth | September 12, 2011 4:35 PM

Thank you Pat for bringing these authentic recipes to our table. since my parents have passed, I regret that I did not practice cooking these dishes that my mom used to make all the time.

maria navarro | September 12, 2011 6:46 PM

Yum!! I am a vegetarian now, but I grew up eating all these wonderful dishes. I am usually able to figure a substitute for meat, but not sure what I could use for the pozole dish. Any suggestions? I would really love to try a vegetarian pozole... Thanks! :)

Sabrina | September 13, 2011 1:31 PM

Hola Sabrina, there are many vegetarian pozoles. It is simple to transform this pozole into a vegetarian dish. Just use a lot of vegetables instead of the chicken and substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth. I hope you enjoy! :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Sabrina | September 14, 2011 11:39 AM

It is my pleasure to share these recipes! :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from maria navarro | September 14, 2011 12:13 PM

I hope you enjoy Beth!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Beth | September 14, 2011 1:25 PM

This is a fine recipe and very similar to the one I make at home. I've always preferred pozole verde but it is impossible to find in local restaurants. The only difference for me is to use half pork and half chicken - pork only pozoles seem a bit heavy to me. Lots of lime juice really makes a difference!

BTW for my last batch I made the hominy from scratch - that was too much work! The refrigerated bags of nixtamalized corn taste great, not surprisingly better than canned hominy.

I'm so looking forward to your cookbook!

Mike in SoCal

Mike | September 14, 2011 7:59 PM

Pati, pozole is my absolute favorite food in the world. This past weekend I made it for my birthday dinner and checked your site probably a day before I started cooking to see if you had a recipe. I completely missed this one! I can't wait to try it. Usually I make mine white and have a red chile sauce on the side. I have a question about preparing the hominy. Last week three friends (bless them) and I spent about 2 hours removing the tips from each and every kernel (the party was for 50 people ... LOTS of poole). I noticed that this version still has the tips. I'd always done it because I was told it will help the hominy open and let the flavors seep in. But if it doesn't matter than this would save me lots of time. So, am I just wasting time by removing the tips?

Claudia | September 15, 2011 12:46 PM

Dear Pati
We made this recipe tonight and oh my... it is sooo delicious!!!! Thank you so much !!

Vanessa | September 17, 2011 8:25 PM

Gracias Pati!! You are the best! I'm not sure if you remember me but this is Kanani from Hawaii. I wrote to you previously and asked if you had a delicious pozole recipe to share with us. I can't wait to try it!! I hope my Joaquin likes it, I know I will!! Aloha!

Kanani A. | September 20, 2011 8:28 PM

Ahh Pati! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I agree with you that the dried pozole is the best; it is a little chewier than the canned. I have had "green" pozole with a clear broth, so i think i will leave out the pumpkin seeds, except for that, as you describe it is how it is served in Mexican households everywhere. I am sooo looking forward to buying your book! Con amor, Joyce

Joyce K | September 24, 2011 4:36 AM

Patti - all your recipes make my mouth water. I lived in Guadaljara, Mexico and we used to go to a restaurant that served empanadas with a creamed style corn filling, maybe pimento and they were a little spicy. They were so good. Do you do anything like that? Thx.

Carol Garcia

Carol Garcia | September 27, 2011 10:02 PM

Hi Carol
Yes, I love those empanadas! I have a post for empanadas with picadillo here . I will look into posting soon about more empanadas :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Carol Garcia | September 30, 2011 3:32 PM

Hola Pati! Can you also please post your recipe for red pozole- estilo Jalisco? I would love to try it.

Veronica | November 11, 2011 3:36 PM

Hola Veronica, I have a delicious red pozole recipe and will be sure to post it soon! :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Veronica | November 15, 2011 11:24 AM

May i leave the chicken pieces whole?

linda | December 21, 2011 10:07 PM

Yes, Linda you can leave the pieces whole!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from linda | December 22, 2011 10:04 AM

Hola paty! I really enjoy everything about you.It makes me feel so proud:)thanks for you great recipes!just wanna add:I grew up in Guerrero and I think it has the best pozole in the world(my moms,ji,ji)on thursdays is a must we have it on the flag colors and every single one is delish,the red one is the most popular:)

ITZY | December 27, 2011 1:13 PM

Hi Parti,
I just discovered your show on PBS. Your stories and passion for your food reminds me of my next-door neighbors who are from Mexico. This particular recipe reminds me of them. Once a month, my neighbor Rosa would make a giant pot of Pozole for lunch. Family, friends and neighbors would cram into their tiny bungalow to feast on her soup, catch up on the news of the neighborhood, or have a good lauph with family. Thanks for reminding me that I'm about due for my Posole fix!

Heidi | January 20, 2012 5:53 PM

Happy I could remind you Heidi...Enjoy!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Heidi | January 26, 2012 10:46 AM

hi pati!!love your show,big fan,i would like to know what kind of music you like to listen to,if at all,while your cooking,thanks randy.

randy | March 31, 2012 7:27 PM

Hola Randy, I like all different types of music, but lately I've been into country :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from randy | April 9, 2012 2:28 PM

As a college student with a kitchen narrower than my arm span, I accept the challenge to recreate your Pozole Verde.

But I do have a question. Is it possible to replace the maiz in the recipe with another grain? I know that it would have to be a larger grain so the pozole still has the same consistency. What do you think?

I hadn't realized how healthful pozole is. There is no source of added fats except the two tablespoons in the green sauce, and that isn't much for 12-15 servings. I am trying to make an archive of go-to recipes that are traditionally Mexican and also healthful. I will definitely add this one to the list and practice it until I get it right. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!

Samantha Bustillo | April 18, 2012 5:22 PM

I never knew there were 3 types of Pozole, wow! My uncle would make it all the time and I absolutely loved it. But the old fart passed and never passed the recipe on to anyone. :-(

Give me some cord tortillas, onion, cilantro and Pozole and I am a happy girl.

Allie | April 25, 2012 5:16 PM

@ Samantha Bustillo:D I had a neighbor who would make it with garbanzo beans AKA chick peas,and it was good a little diferent but still:)She claimed that was healthier so She can enjoy more of it;)

Itzy replied to comment from Samantha Bustillo | July 14, 2012 3:17 PM

Great idea Itzy! One of my favorite things about cooking is taking a recipe or dish and making it your own.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Itzy | July 19, 2012 12:59 PM

what is the differences between green and white pozole ?

vivian | September 2, 2012 7:26 PM

In most cases, any "color" pozole, such as green or red, adds either a green sauce (with Poblanos, cilantro...) or red sauce (with dried chiles like guajillo and sometimes tomatos) to finish cooking in the soup. When it is "white" it is the hominy broth combined with the meat broth that may have been used.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from vivian | September 8, 2012 7:26 PM

Hello Pati,
I really love this dish, and really all of the dishes you have listed here! I have many hispanic friends who love to come over and eat often they complain that I don't make many hispanic dishes and now that I have found your site I can incorporate their heritage and introduce my family to another way of enjoying food. Keep up the good work!! And again thanks so very much!

S Renee | September 23, 2012 5:35 PM

Hola Renee, Let me know what recipes you try -- and what your latin friends think!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from S Renee | September 26, 2012 10:20 AM

Perfect for mi daughter's quinceanera!
Pati your the best, can't wait for your cookbook!

Claudia Tamez | December 5, 2012 1:02 PM

Gracias, Claudia!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Claudia Tamez | December 10, 2012 5:06 PM

can you use hominy in a can instead of of dried

Armando | December 18, 2012 9:39 PM


VERONICA | December 20, 2012 3:36 PM

Hola Veronica, I think you'll do a great job making this dish! Go for it!! It would be simplest with only chicken because you only have to worry about one meat.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from VERONICA | December 28, 2012 5:37 PM