Sunday afternoon I jetted off to the coffee shop of our local MegaBookStore to spend a couple quiet hours, leaving David in a quiet, albeit slightly messy house and the perpetual pile of laundry that is constantly being folded, put away, washed, and folded again. You know what I’m talking about. He’s always encouraging me to do this–take a couple of hours here, a few there, maybe use that gift certificate for a massage he gave me for my first Mother’s Day (yes, that was almost four years ago. Don’t you go lecturing me, too). He is a kind enough guy that he may truly be encouraging me to take some time for myself, but I secretly think he just really loves the luxury of the kids and the house to himself. It’s funny how after you have children, if you’re married, you’re rarely in the house without someone else in it. I lived by myself for most of my non-married twenties because I liked the autonomy (that and my first post-college roommate had the creepiest boyfriend who always seemed to lurk about, even though his own apartment was down the hall, and it may have scared me off roommates forever), and it’s still strange to me–especially now that Saoirse’s dropped her nap, and is always, always beside me, behind me, on me–that having a family truly, at least in the beginning, means that you’re rarely alone.
Well, before I left that day, I, possessing a slightly unnerving addiction to my smartphone, checked Facebook. I know an absolutely hysterical woman from Texas (sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it?), and this lady–Leah Redus Cleary’s her name, y’all–also happens to be a pretty darned good cook. So this particular morning, I saw that she had been making posole. She hadn’t posted her recipe yet, so I searched around online (again with my smarty smartphone) until I got a good idea of what goes in the stew. I then completely ignored what I saw, dumped a whole bunch of stuff that we already had in the house in a slow cooker, turned it on, kissed my family, and left for the coffee shop.
Posole is a Mexican stew that’s traditionally made with pork. Leah used chicken thighs. I had a couple of chicken breasts hanging out in our fridge, so that’s what I used. I also tend to go a little heavy on the veggies when I make stews, since years of ingrained vegetarianism conditioned me to pick around a dish for the non-meaty stuff. I seriously think that what came out of our slow cooker Sunday night resembles nothing that my Texan friend remembers from her childhood, but it was worth sharing with you. It’s comfort food that’s hearty and warm and slightly spicy, but unlike your traditional stews, this stuff begs to be paired with a good margarita. On the rocks, with salt, please. We’ll take two.
(with apologies to Leah Redus Cleary)
2 limes, cut into wedges
Chopped cilantro to taste
For topping: chopped avocados, sour cream, freshly grated Monterey jack cheese
Add hominy, tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and cumin to a large slow cooker and stir together. Add chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Top with salsa verde and cover. Cook on high for 3 1/2 hours. Shred the chicken and stir into the other ingredients. Cook for another half hour. Right before serving, stir in chopped cilantro and the juice of about half a lime. Serve with lime wedges and tortilla chips, and sour cream if desired.
Variations: I think I’m going to add shrimp the next time I make this. Just stir them in a couple of minutes before the end of cooking time to make sure they cook through. Leah also suggests chopping a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo (you can find cans of these in the grocery store) to add to the mix for some smoky spiciness.
Like most stews, this one tastes better on the second go-’round, which also explains why my girls liked it so much better the next day. I also changed up how I served the posole, this time topping bowls of it with the grated cheese and avocados. It was awesome. I did never get that margarita, though.
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