POZOLE PRONTO (MEXICO)
Eating Well magazine, a journal of unfortunately variable quality, had some pretty good stuff this month (Jan/Feb '95 issue). I've marked several for attention and tried one tonight, a lightened version of a Mexican hominy soup. I did it with relatively minor variations:
Drain and rinse the contents of one 15-ounce can of black beans and one 15- ounce can of white hominy (pozole), and set them aside to soak for an hour or so in bowls with water to cover, acidulated with the juice of 1/2 lemon or lime. (This is a trick I use to reconstitute canned beans and such to eliminate the metallic "canned" taste.)
In a small nonstick skillet, toast two teaspoons of dried oregano over high heat for a moment or two until it becomes very aromatic and starts turning golden. Dump into a small dish to cool.
Coarsely chop enough red onion to make one cup. Mince one or two large garlic cloves (1 tablespoon). Measure out and set aside 1 tablespoon chile powder (I use a good grade of red New Mexico chiles).
Cut about 12 ounces of boneless chicken breast, trimmed of all fat, into 1/2- inch squares.
Have ready about 3 1/2 cups good chicken broth.
Shred cabbage very fine to make about one cup. Slice a lime into wedges.
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet or dutch oven, and sautee 3/4 cup of the chopped red onion in it with the garlic until it's soft and turning golden. If it gets too dry, loosen it with a bit of the chicken broth. Stir in about half of the toasted oregano and the chile powder. Add the chicken broth, cut-up chicken and the hominy and let cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add the black beans and let them simmer for another five minutes.
Serve, garnishing at the table with the chopped cabbage, the reserved red onions and toasted oregano (mixed together) and the lime wedges, with your choice of hot sauce (I used the El Yucateca green habanero sauce) to taste.
As a side dish, we made quick quesadillas: Place a dry iron skillet over medium heat until it's quite hot, then put one flour tortilla in it, topping with about 1 ounce of shredded queso blanco (chihuahua) cheese and making it a sandwich with a second tortilla. When the underside starts to brown (about 1 1/2 minutes) flip the sandwich and let the other side brown while the cheese melts. Cut in quarters and top each quarter with a spoonful of salsa.
The combination made a full meal, and went very nicely with an inexpensive red Rhone wine.