Serve this Mexican-inspired dish over polenta or grits – or toss it with pasta
Hatch green chilies? Bring them on!
They’re in peak season right now, so we can find them fresh (or roasted) at our local markets. But they’re also available in cans at most grocery stores (or frozen from online vendors).
Hatch green chilies are the star of this Mexican-inspired ragù. But no worries if you can’t find them. You can substitute poblano or Anaheim chilies, which also have great flavor.
Good to have choices, isn’t it?
Recipe: Chicken, Green Chile, and Pozole Ragù
This dish is a riff on the classic Mexican soup, pozole (sometimes spelled posole). Pozole soup traditionally is made with pork and green or red chilies. It’s a festive late-fall specialty, often served at Christmas time. Instead of soup, we’re making a rich ragù (stew-like sauce) that we like to serve over polenta. But you can also spoon it over grits or rice, or even toss it with pasta.
“Pozole” is Spanish for hominy, which is dried maize that’s soaked in a solution of lye or slaked lime, and then washed. It’s a major ingredient of pozole soup (not to mention this dish). We’re using the canned form of hominy/pozole because it’s ready to cook and is available in every supermarket. But you can also find hominy/pozole in dried form, which requires soaking before using (follow the package directions).
We use chicken in this dish, but you could substitute pork. And we’re using green chilies – Hatch chilies in this case.
This recipe has three distinct parts: First, you cook and shred the chicken. Second, roast and peel the green chilies (you can do this at the same time you cook the chicken – and if you’re using canned or frozen roasted chilies, this step isn’t necessary). Third, you combine the chicken and chilies with other ingredients to make the ragù.
The ragù itself takes an hour (or a bit longer) to cook. The chicken takes about 1½ hours from start to finish. And the green chile peppers take about an hour to roast, cool, and peel. You may find it easier to prepare the chicken and chilies a day or two ahead. You can also make the ragù a day ahead of time, then reheat right before serving.
This recipe serves about 8 as a main course. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. They also freeze well.
For the shredded chicken:
- ~2 pounds chicken thighs or breasts
- salt and pepper for seasoning (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (or lard)
- 1 to 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dried chile powder (optional; we like to use Hatch medium or ancho)
- ~9 ounces green chilies (about 7 whole chilies; use Hatch green chilies if you can find them; otherwise, poblano or Anaheim green chilies make a good substitute – see Notes)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (or lard)
- ~1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste; about half this amount if using regular table salt)
- ~½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 to 3 jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you want the chili to be; optional)
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves
- 7 to 8 ounces green chilies, roasted and diced (see below for preparation; may substitute canned chilies – see Notes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chile powder (or to taste: optional)
- 1 to 2 pounds shredded cooked chicken (see below for preparation)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 28-ounce can puréed tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans hominy (pozole/posole)
- water or chicken stock (for quantity, see Step 9 of ragù preparation below)
- additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed
- for serving, cooked Polenta or Grits
- garnish of chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
- additional garnish of jalapeño pepper slices or shredded Cotija cheese (optional; see Notes for more garnish possibilities)
For the shredded chicken:
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat a Dutch oven or covered casserole on the stovetop over medium heat (use one large enough to hold the chicken – about 4 quarts). When hot, add the oil and let it heat (it’ll shimmer; this takes maybe 15 seconds). Add the chicken pieces and brown them lightly.
- Add a cup of water and the chile powder, if using. Bring the water to a simmer, then cover the cooking pot and set a timer for 1 hour.
- At the hour mark, check the water level, adding more if necessary. Test the chicken to see how tender it is. If it won’t shred easily, cook for another ½ hour or so. (When a paring knife pierces the meat easily, it’s done.)
- Drain the cooked chicken pieces and let them cool. Then, using a pair of forks or two tongs, shred the meat. Set aside. (You can do this step a day or two ahead if you want, and then refrigerate the cooked chicken.)
- Wash the green chilies and spread them out on a broiler pan (preferably one with a wire rack). Place the pan under the broiler and heat until the chile skins begin to blister and turn black. Turn the chilies and repeat until all sides are blistered.
- Place the roasted chilies in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. Allow them to steam for 15 minutes or so.
- Put on a pair of kitchen gloves (to protect your hands from the chile oils). Using your hands, rub the skin of each chile until it comes off. This usually is quite easy to do, but if necessary you can use a paring knife to help with recalcitrant parts. (You might find the skin slips off a bit easier under running water.) Once you remove the charred skin, you’ll notice that the chile flesh underneath isn’t charred – but it still retains that wonderful smoky flavor.
- Cut off the stem-end of each chile (just below the stem). Slit each chile open lengthwise and (wearing gloves) remove the seeds and cut off the white pith (these parts contain much of the chile “heat” without contributing much flavor).
- Dice the chilies into pieces about ½ inch square, then use them in the ragù preparation below. (You can do this step a day or two ahead if you want, then refrigerate the roasted chilies.)
- Peel and dice the onions.
- Warm a large Dutch oven – one that holds 6 quarts or more – over medium stovetop heat (this is what you’ll be using to cook the ragù).
- When the Dutch oven is warm, add the oil and allow it to heat (it will shimmer when it’s hot). Then add the diced onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is slightly brown (5 to 8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, wash the jalapeño peppers, if using, and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice or use a mini food processor (you may want to reserve some slices of pepper for garnish). Place the peppers in a bowl until you’re ready to use them, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or slice it thinly (we usually slice garlic because we like larger pieces).
- When the onion is slightly brown, add the sliced garlic and chopped jalapeño. Cook for a minute or two.
- Add the diced roasted chilies, plus the cumin and coriander (and the chile powder, if using). Stir and allow the mixture to cook for a minute or two.
- Add the shredded cooked chicken, stir, and cook for a minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes. Drain and rinse the hominy (pozole), then add it to the mixture. Add enough water or chicken stock to make a thick stew (but aim for something much thinner than soup consistency).
- Bring the ragù to a simmer, then cook for about 45 minutes (or longer – timing is not critical).
- Add more salt and/or pepper, if needed.
- To serve, ladle the ragù over cooked polenta or grits on individual serving plates. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, if desired. Or use slices of jalapeño pepper. Some shredded Cotija cheese makes a nice finishing touch.
- Need additional garnish ideas? Try sliced radishes. Or chopped onion or scallion.
- Don’t have Cotija cheese (Queso Cotija) on hand? Queso Fresco would also work. Or even Parmesan.
- BTW, when making the polenta or grits, you might want to stir in some Cotija cheese right at the end to add extra flavor.
- If you don’t want to take the time to cook chicken, we suppose you could use a supermarket rotisserie chicken (we’re guessing – we haven’t tried this). If you go this route, shred the meat from the chicken. You’ll need at least 1 pound of shredded chicken for this recipe, but anything up to 2 pounds is ideal.
- Roasted Hatch green chilies are ideal in this dish, but poblano or Anaheim chilies work equally well. You can also use canned or frozen green chilies.
- Hatch chilies come from New Mexico (specifically, from a region around the small town of Hatch). They can vary in intensity from mild to extremely hot, so taste-test before using them.
- Hatch green chilies are flavorful even in their raw state. But they’re generally roasted before using, and the char that develops adds even deeper flavor. You’ll get the best results when you roast the chilies on a grill or over a gas stove flame. But you can also get pretty good flavor using your oven’s broiler, as we do in this recipe.
- As noted above, you can use this ragù as sauce for pasta: Just cook the pasta as you normally would, then drain it and add it to a large bowl. Add the ragù, toss, and serve.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the flakes are larger, so it doesn’t pack a measure as tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
Down the Hatch
“Yummy stuff,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Love the Hatch chilies.”
“Yup, we’re major pepper consumers,” I said. “We could sustain New Mexico’s economy all by ourselves.”
“That’s because they grow disappearing chilies,” said Mrs K R. “Those little green dudes never seem to hang around here for more than a couple of days.”
The Amazing Vanishing Chilies. And that’s only part of their magic.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Green Chile Stew with Pork
Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies
Green Chile Cauliflower 'n Cheese
Green Chile Chili Beans with Bacon
Italian Pork Ragu for Pasta or Polenta
Or check out the index for more
With pasta or grit...I want it pur :-) Chicken and chile..a great combo!
Hi Angie, chicken and chile do play together rather nicely, don't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks like a really delicious recipe! A real New Mexico combination -- pozole is also a local specialty. I once bought some at the Farmers' Market in Los Alamos. Hatch is a really small town with one huge hamburger joint that makes hatch green chili cheeseburgers and hatch green chili milkshakes. The burger was great but I didn't have the nerve to try the shake!
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
That ragu is an awesome fal dish full of comfort and heat to remind us of summer! Roasting chilies makes such a huge difference.
Hi Mae, pozole is HUGE in New Mexico! We've never been to Hatch, but would love to visit one of these days. Those milkshakes sound interesting. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, we like unroasted chilies, but they're a whole new flavor sensation when roasted. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a great idea! This recipe looks delicious.
Hi Pam, it IS delicious! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh yum, I really like Mecican flavours, that chicken must be amazing☺
Hi Natalia, it's a fun -- and tasty! -- dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds fabulous and really warming for cold weather. I'll keep this in mind for when fall finally arrives in Phoenix :)
Hi Kelsie, might be a few weeks yet for you. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This would hit the spot perfectly today. We have a little brisk in the air and wowza do our boys love the chili heat. I am certain they have already printed out your recipe and stuck it on the refrigerator door as a hint... LOL
Life has been a bit challenging lately and this is just what I need to recharge! I happen to have some hominy in the pantry and think I just might be able to pull this off for dinner tonight! That means I can cross that off of my list! Which is a good thing...just like this recipe!
Hi Bobbi, your boys would LOVE this! And this makes enough so they'll be able to leave some for you. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, this won't solve your challenges, but it will help sooth your soul. :-) Thanks for the comment.
We love pozole!! Fantastic spin on the dish, John. Looks delicious!!
I love everything about this recipe. I'm such a hominy fan.
Hi Marcelle, all the flavor of the soup, and more. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, hominy is such good stuff, isn't it? Neat ingredient, in all of its forms. Thanks for the comment.
Now I know what to make with all those Hatch chilies I see at our local Wegman's grocery store. Every year they pitch a tent and roast tons of those delightful peppers. This sounds like a great dish and I know my husband will love it :) Thanks for sharing!
Hi Tricia, don't you LOVE the aroma of roasting chile peppers? So enticing! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Fabulous chicken recipe! Hominy and Hatch chilies are a winning combination of flavors.
Such a bold and comforting dinner recipe!
Hi Deb, can't beat Hatch chilies with anything! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, yup, we're definitely approaching comfort food season. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh my goodness this looks amazing! I just got home from a LONG day at work and really wish this was on my dinner table right now.
Hi Dahn, it IS amazing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a clever idea to take a traditional stew dish and turn it into a ragu. I love that! For us posole is comfort food so anything made with posole gets a big thumbs up from me. Have never served it over polenta and now I'm curious. Great dish John!
Hi MJ, thought you'd like this dish. :-) And bet you could make this even better, since you're the Hatch chile goddess. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds wonderful! The flavours will be huge and I have never thought to blister chillies before this will be fun (in disposable gloves). How original, I am filing this one to try on the weekend.
how very exotic this sounds with talk of hominy and grits and different chillies:=) I don't think we have hominy here especially not in tins. I'm not even sure what it is...is it like polenta? yep chicken and chillies sound great together. cheers sherry
Hi Merryn, wait until you taste the flavor of roast/blistered chilies! It's wonderful -- and the aroma as you do it is even better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sherry, no hominy? Oh, no! It might be mainly a North and Central American thing. Thanks for the comment.
I have not cooked with hominy for ages, as it is very popular in Brazil. I love the sound and the look of this dish...so tasty and perfectly balance. Thanks for the recipe John...hope you are having a great week!
Hi Jiliana, interesting to hear hominy is popular in Brazil! Didn't know that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh Yeah! In New Mexico - hatch chilis are an obsession come August/September - Whole Foods always sells TONSSS and roasts them outside the store. Although, I have to admit, I am actually not really a fan - Cause I don't like spicy!
This looks so good. I love all the flavors and I'm sure they just burst in your mouth. Sorry for posting here, for some reason your comments weren't showing up other than chiming in here.
Hi Gigi, the aroma of roasting chilies is enticing even if they're too spicy for you! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, comments have been a bit weird lately, alas. :-( Thanks for the comment!
I love Hatch chile season and have a big bag of roasted Hatch in the freezer. I just stocked up to have the at the ready all year! This recipe sounds delicious and it's my favorite type -- hearty, comforting and packed with flavor! :-)
What a magnificent recipe for Hatch chili season! I love all these yummy flavors and I have a feeling it will be hubby approved :)
wow. this is fabulous. Love all of the ingredients and flavors - and colors! If I were to serve this over cornmeal, I probably wouldn't include the pozole, but that's just me.
Hi Liz, bet your hubby WOULD approve of this! Loads of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Valentina, we roasted a bunch of Hatch chilies and have them i the freezer, too. Nice to have on hand, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, you definitely get double corn when serving this over poleta, but the pozole and polenta have such different textures and flavors that we think they work pretty well together. But definitely can see why you'd prefer to serve this over something else! Thanks for the comment.
Wow, this is seriously on time for me. I was just wondering this morning what to do with all these goodies in my vegetable garden :). Awesome recipe.
Hi Amira, you ask, we answer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds delicious! I think I'll try the supermarket rotisserie chicken idea!
Hi Jeff, this dish has tons of flavor -- enjoy! :-)
John – I love the fusion aspect of this dish! It’s as if all of my worlds are coming together in one fantastic meal. I also always appreciate how you give substitutions and options for people. It makes it so much less frightening for them to cook good food… Happy weekend to you and Mrs. KR!
Hi David, this is a fun (and tasty!) dish. Glad you enjoy how we write the recipe and Notes. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Chicken, Green Chile, and Pozole Ragù sounds amazing. I'll eat this over pasta for sure.
Hi Peachy, this would be great over pasta. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Just by looking at the ingredients, I can tell this is a big-flavor dish sure to satisfy, especially with fall upon us.
Hi Carolyn, loads of flavor in this dish! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love mexican dishes and anything with green chille ;-) I've never tried a pozole yet though. I would love to try this recipe over the weekend with friends....sounds so yumm and comforting! Thanks for sharing :-)
Hi Manju, green chile is great stuff, isn't it? Particularly Hatch green chilies -- such wonderful flavor. Thanks for the comment.
I absolutely love all these spices! And I am imagining the amazing leftovers from this.
Hi Laura, the flavoring of this is wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.
A really great looking dish. I love the green chilies with the chicken
Hi Dawn, green chilies, particularly Hatch green chilies, have such wonderful flavor! Love 'em. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Theres some awesome flavours in that dish! Feel like I wanna have it with some soft tacos or tortillas
Hi Raymund, we haven't had this dish with soft tacos, but it's a great idea! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks so delicious! Always looking for recipes to use Hatch chilies in!
Hi Kelly, aren't Hatch chilies wonderful? And they're terrific in this dish! Thanks for the comment.
an appetizing dish
Hi Izaa, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is the kind of dish the hubby would really love.
Hi Emma, this is LOADED with flavor! Good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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