Pozole is hands down my all-time favorite Mexican soup. And I don’t care whether it’s a chicken pozole, pork, shrimp, or even the vegetarian varieties I have prepared. There's just something about that wonderful corn flavor that comes from the hominy, combined with the red chile broth and hints of Mexican oregano that I really love.
And you can't forget the garnishes, of course! Many of my favorite Mexican soups are all about the fresh garnishes. The soups would just not be the same without them. On the day I made this pozole, I found myself with a basket full of garden tomatoes and Anaheim peppers that I had to use up. One of my favorite ways to enjoy those tomatoes is to slow-roast them in the oven. I will warn you that if you have any crusty bread, the tomatoes may not make it to the soup recipe. They are that delicious on their own, but they do add great flavor to this version of chicken pozole recipe. Adding the roasted tomatoes and peppers is not traditional, but it sure was a delicious variation!
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Add the guajillo peppers to a pot of boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep.
Transfer the tomatoes and green Anaheim peppers to a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt, pepper and oregano. Roast tomato-pepper mixture for 1 hour, rotating pan halfway through cooking time.
While tomatoes and peppers are roasting, transfer the chicken to a large, dutch-oven style pot. Add the onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, pepper, 1 teaspoon of oregano, crushed, bouillon and ham hock, if using. Cover with about 6 to 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 40 minutes. Skim off the top as it cooks, when needed. Taste for salt.
Drain the guajillo peppers and transfer to the blender, along with the roasted tomato-pepper mash and its juices. Blend on high until smooth and strain through a wire-mesh strainer, set aside.
Remove the chicken pieces from the soup base. Strain out all of the solids from soup. Transfer stock back into the pot, stir in the strained tomato-pepper mixture. Add the hominy and chicken back into the soup. Shred the meat off of the bones before adding it back into soup. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of crushed oregano, 2 cups of chicken broth and salt, if needed. Continue cooking at a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish to taste, serve with corn tostadas.
1. It's very easy to make hominy! Soak 1 to 2 cups of the dried hominy overnight. Drain and rinse. Cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking for about 2 hours or until tender. Drain and rinse well before adding it to your favorite recipe.
2. New Mexico chiles, California chiles and Guajillo chiles are very similar in flavor and heat level. Any of these can be used when a recipe calls for dried red chiles, such as pozole, menudo, enchilada sauce. Remember to store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry space.
3. Pozole is one of those recipes that improves with age. And pozole is great for storing in the freezer when you find yourself with leftovers - if there are any!