Purple Posole Stew (subtitle: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover)
August 30, 2011
As someone who has indeed judged many a book by its cover when browsing bookstores, it’s kind of ironic that I’m asking you to look beyond the pictures of my purple posole stew, and take my word for it on the taste. (It’s not like I don’t ever read the backs of and then buy ugly-covered books, and I always read the backs of attractively covered books before actually buying them). But, near non sequitur aside, almost none of the pictures I took while making this dish, and none of the pictures of the finished product were very attractive. At all. The taste, however, was wonderful. I wanted to make use of the gorgeous purple posole I got a few weeks ago from Whole Foods, but wasn’t really thinking about how a stew that is kind of brownish would really look nicer with light-colored posole than it would with purple. Oh well. It was still cool eating purple posole. (Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while are familiar with my affinity for purple things).
I love posole – it’s hearty tasting, has a great toothy quality, and is very satisfying. Posole and hominy seem to be used interchangeably by most people, but a few searches turned up an explanation that the two are created using different alkaline components to treat the corn, as well as different types of corn. I’m not completely sure I’ve even eaten hominy, so I can only vouch for posole, but I can tell you, it’s awesome. The treatment used for either type results in less fiber than untreated corn, but the process makes niacin more readily available to the body, so in that respect, it’s more nutritious than sweet corn. Using dried posole takes more time than using canned, but it’s so worth it. There’s not a lot of labor involved at all, just waiting. You soak the posole overnight, and then cooking it takes at least two and a half hours. But I can promise you, your kitchen will smell fantastic.
I like to use poultry for posole stew, but you could certainly use pork, or even something more unique like elk. I looked for skinless turkey thighs, but couldn’t find any, so I got chicken thighs instead, which worked quite well. The extra bit of fat in the thighs allows the meat stand up to the long cooking time better than leaner breast meat would. For heat, I had planned to use two poblano peppers, which I swear were labelled as ‘medium’ heat, but they very definitely weren’t hot when I touched a bit to my tongue. So I used them as a textural element only, and grabbed the three dried chipotle peppers I still had from Savory Spice Shop. I broke them in a few pieces, then removed the seeds (the hottest part), and chopped them into smaller pieces. They added a perfect amount of heat, and brought a very nice smoky element to the stew. (You can always adjust the heat level to your liking by adding some cayenne, or using hotter peppers). Below is the only attractive picture I took during the whole process – all the vegetables before I added the chicken, broth and water. Drink it in, in all its beauty, because the next picture will be the not-so-great looking finished product.
Purple Posole Stew
1 lb skinless chicken thighs, cut into ~ 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
5 c water
12 oz dried posole
3 c onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 poblano chilies, chopped
3 dried chipotle chilies, seeds removed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
Soak the posole in water overnight. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until posole is tender (around 2 and 1/2 hours).