Pozole verde: $1.35/serving

You know what I feel like doing when I get home from work and it’s dark and cold and the cats are hungry and I still have a pile of emails to return? Relaxing in front of the TV with a glass of wine Grinding my own chicken meat!*

Doing things you would not at this very moment like to be doing is a principal tenet of the $35-a-week philosophy, but like most of life’s unpleasantries, the idea of doing it is much worse than the actual doing. Once you’ve convinced yourself it’s a non-negotiable issue, it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. And I guarantee you that sitting down with a bowl of this warming, flavor-packed stew for less than the price of a 20-ounce soda is enough to make you forget the paltry 30 minutes you would have otherwise spent checking Facebook while watching a rerun of Cops. (Oh, you wouldn’t do this? What if it was one of the old ones, where the perps are always driving Oldsmobile Cutlasses and the cops look like they’re wearing Reno 911 costumes from the Halloween Express clearance bin? No?)

*If you’re not concerned about your budget, by all means buy pre-ground chicken meat. Or, better yet, ground pork.

In all seriousness, though, this is a surefire crowd-pleaser. I’ve made it many times over many years with many variations, and nobody hasn’t either asked for the recipe or requested I make it again. It’s not very photogenic, but then again, comfort food isn’t supposed to be.

This makes 3 generous servings; it’s easy to scale up or down.

Ingredients:

• 12 oz. chicken thighs, ground (this literally takes about 30 seconds in a food processor): $1.30
• One half to 3/4 (depending on how much you like hominy) of a 28-ounce can white hominy (add the rest to chicken broth to make a simple lunch soup, or freeze): 50 cents
• 1 onion, cut into large pieces: 25 cents
• 1 jalapeño (if you’re one of those big shots who doesn’t run screaming into the kitchen for a glass of water after anything higher than 2,500 on the Scoville scale, add 2 or even 3): 13 cents
• 2 garlic cloves: 4 cents
• 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (I had to resort to Better Than Bouillon base; Safeway promised buy-1-get-1-free whole chickens this week, neglecting to mention said chickens were suddenly twice the normal price per pound): 2 cents
• 1 T vegetable oil: 6 cents
• 1/2 tsp ground cumin: 8 cents
• 1/3 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped: 16 cents
• 4 oz. Jack cheese, grated: $1
• Handful of green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted till puffed and golden: 50 cents
• Salt to taste: 1 cent
TOTAL: $4.04/3 = $1.35/serving

If you’re using whole frozen chicken thighs, defrost them and grind in a food processor.

Put the garlic, onion, jalapeño and 1/2 cup chicken broth in a blender and purée until smooth.

Heat 1 T oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat and add the ground chicken (or pork). Cook just until no longer pink and add the purée. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Add the remaining chicken broth, cumin, hominy and cilantro to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes, until flavors have melded. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with cheese and pumpkin seeds.

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