Después de Acción de Gracias
(After Thanksgiving Mexican Style)
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, no contest. And for three or four days afterward I love sneaking into the refrigerator for bites of cold stuffing or snippets of dark turkey meat. Or those fabulous sandwiches, hot or cold stacked with turkey, stuffing and cranberry chutney. But for me the best leftover meal happens the day when whatever turkey is left goes into the soup pot… never the same, always delicious.
In a conversation with an Hispanic friend the day after Thanksgiving I learned that in many Hispanic households Posole, a traditional holiday soup, is a popular Thanksgiving substitute for turkey and trimmings. “In Mexico it’s a traditional soup” he said. “Like turkey, it takes hours to cook and can involve lots of helpers who prepare different, tasty condiments.”
So, visualizing the 2#+ of leftover turkey and 3 quarts of turkey stock, I began reading recipes for Posole (you will not believe how many there are). All are different and most claim to be “the authentic” one.
Spanish for hominy, Posole is hulled corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkaline lime solution to remove the husks, then dried. The soup is named after it. Throughout Mexico, Central and South America Posole recipes vary from region to region, town to town, family to family and neighbor to neighbor. The constant ingredients are stock made by cooking pork (often a whole pig’s head), beef or chicken with onion, garlic, chilies and Posole. For generations of Hispanic families their particular recipes are “de camino nuestra familia hace posole.”
I settled on one that called for mild chilies, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Then I added and/or eliminated ingredients from other recipes to get a flavor combination I knew I would like.
While I don’t have the nerve to substitute Posole for turkey at our family Thanksgiving, I certainly will be cooking it often from now on.
- Using leftover turkey and stock cuts the preparation time way down, and provides a rich flavor base to which the Mexican ingredients are added.
- Canned hominy is easy to find. Dried Posole is available in Hispanic grocery stores. Several recipes stated that the dried posole makes “much better, richer Posole.” I will try it sometime.
- Cilantro cooked awhile loses its color so save some to add just before serving.
- I made the soup with limited amounts of chili pepper and added minced red and green chili peppers as a condiment so people could add as much heat as they wanted.
- Prep the condiments while the stock is cooking.
- Raw Pepitas can be roasted quickly and easily in a pan on the stove.
- At the last minute I added Aged Sonoma Jack cheese quesadillas; they are not a traditional accompaniment to Posole, but they sure were good.
3 tbs. olive oil
8 heads fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
5 large fresh tomatillos, husks removed and diced
3 quarts chicken or turkey stock
2 Poblano chili peppers, seeds and stems removed
2 Anaheim chili peppers, seeds and stems removed
3 tsp. dried Chipotle pepper
1 tbs. dried Epazote* (optional)
2 bay leaves, cracked
2 tbs. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tbs. dried
3 tbs. ground Cumin
2 bunches fresh Cilantro, leaves separated from stems, stems discarded
2 ½# cooked turkey (dark meat)
1 can (29oz) Mexican Style Hominy, drained
2 tbs. Green Tabasco** sauce (or more to taste)
3 or 4 fresh limes
Salt to taste
¾ cup raw Pepitas, roasted and set aside
1 bunch fresh radishes
1½ cups thinly shredded green cabbage
2 medium size fresh tomatoes, diced and drained
*An herb used for tea and flavoring throughout Mexico, Central and South America. It is readily available in Mexican groceries. Several recipes called for it so I used it, but I couldn’t taste it in the finished soup.
- In a large pot, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic, onion and tomatillas. Cook until softened. Add stock. Coarsely chop ¾ of the peppers and add to the stock. Add 1 tsp. Chipotle, epazote, bay leaves, thyme and cumin. Cook on low simmer for about 15 minutes until flavors blend.
- Chop leaves from one bunch of cilantro and add to soup along with cooked turkey and hominy.
- Zest and then juice 3 of the limes. Add zest and lime juice to soup. Add 1tbs. of Green Tabasco and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare condiments: shave radishes and julienne cut slices into strips, then sprinkle them and cabbage with fresh lime juice. Mince remaining chili peppers. Put radishes, minced peppers, toasted Pepitas, cabbage and chopped tomatoes into separate condiment dishes and set aside.
- Taste soup and correct seasoning with salt and/or more Green Tabasco and dried Chipotle. Bear in mind that the heat from the Tabasco and chili peppers will increase as the soup cooks.
- Just before serving add remaining chopped cilantro.
- To Serve: Ladle soup into heated bowls and serve with condiments and quesadillas.