Matt Finarelli was on a very different career path when he decided he wanted to become a chef. He began by teaching cooking classes on the side while he worked as the Web master and online development specialist for a nonprofit organization. Then he decided to get serious about cooking and enrolled in the culinary program at Stratford University in Falls Church. Since graduating, he has worked in several local restaurants. Now he's back to teaching cooking classes and recently launched a personal chef business. "I teach a huge variety of classes. To make it work, you've got to be able to teach on almost any subject."
Finarelli says this is a favorite recipe from his class titled "A Left Turn at Albuquerque: The Cooking of New Mexico." Hatch green chilies make it extra good, but when they're not in season, you can substitute a 50-50 mix of cubanelle and poblano chili peppers. Don't use jalapenos: They're way too hot.
Serve with warmed tortillas on the side.
Make Ahead: If you use dried hominy, you'll need to soak it in water overnight.
Servings: 4 - 8
- 4 cups canned whole hominy (from three 15-ounce cans); may use 1 1/2 cups dried hominy, soaked in water overnight
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 cup Hatch (New Mexico green) chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack, for garnish
If using canned hominy, pour it into a colander, rinse it with water and allow it to drain. If using dried hominy, place it in a 6-quart pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 2 hours, adjusting the heat to keep the water barely bubbling around the edges and adding water as needed. The hominy is done when the kernels have softened and begun to burst.
Heat the peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently and watching carefully to prevent burning. When the mixture is fragrant and lightly browned, after 1 to 2 minutes, transfer it to a spice grinder and grind into a coarse powder.
Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces in batches and cook on all sides until browned, transferring the finished pieces to a plate or bowl as you go.
When all of the chicken has browned, add the onion, garlic and chilies to the stock pot. Cook until the vegetables are softened and begin to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the ground spices and the chicken pieces (along with any accumulated juices); cook for 1 minute, to heat through and to make the spices fragrant.
Add the cooked posole and broth. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the liquid is barely bubblng around the edges. If using canned hominy, cook for 10 to 15 minutes; if using dried hominy, cook for about 1 hour. The soup is done when the hominy is completely cooked through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with shredded cheese.
Adapted from a recipe by Matt Finarelli, a cooking instructor and personal chef.
Tested by Nicole Schofer.
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