Prepare yourselves guys. A tale of culinary woe follows.
I grew up in a community in California that has a large Hispanic population. This resulted in me assuming 1.) most people could speak and understand at least some Spanish, and 2.) everyone had access to decent Mexican food.
My move to Georgia after high school was a rude awakening.
I can remember it perfectly. I went to dinner in downtown Atlanta with a friend. I ordered the sour cream enchiladas. Sour Cream enchiladas are corn tortillas filled with chicken and green chilies and topped with a sour cream and cheese sauce. They are delicious and should be enjoyed without an ounce of regret for eating the whole plate. Don't feel sorry for stuffing your face. Sour cream enchiladas are worth it. My enchiladas arrived and with a pure heart I took a bite.
And then all my realities were destroyed.
Because, you see, that enchilada was stuffed with chicken and VELVETTA CHEESE. Oh, you think that's where this ends? It only gets worse, guys. Because the white sour cream sauce on top? Tasted like gravy. Yes dear ones, they put cream gravy made with sour cream on top of a tortilla stuffed with shredded chicken and Velveeta cheese, I cannot make stuff like this up.
Listen, I'd like to tell you I maintained my composure and simply ate this monastery or that I simply didn't eat it or that I shed a couple tears and moved on. But no. I was fiery as a 19 year old. I got mad. I may have asked questions like "What the hell is this??!!" in a not quiet voice. I may have told my nice little blond waiter with a thick southern accent, who came by to cheerfully ask how our meal was, "This is terrible, this is not enchiladas, I need my check, what the hell?". I mean, I'm still talking about this and it was, like, over a decade ago. It left an impression.
AND THEN. I went and married someone who ended up having me stay in Georgia for the next 5 years surrounded by no decent Mexican food (Georgia does have an amazing food culture, but you will never convince me that there is good Mexican food there. Ever. VELVETTA CHEESE AND CREAM GRAVY. #sins). Guys, we are from California and this made us sad. Our concurrent moves to Texas and then back to California fixed this situation temporarily and we relished every burrito, every breakfast of chorizo and eggs, every homemade tortilla, every fair taco, and every single bite of refried beans.
You noticed how I said "temporarily?"
Because the East Coast has some amazing things to eat (halal, lobster, Shake Shack) but we are in a no Mexican food zone yet again. There are no refried beans to be had anywhere. ANYWHERE. Because trust, we have tried. And because I'm not quite as fiery these days, instead of telling off waiters, I simply have given up in defeat and taken matters into my own hands by cooking Mexican food at home and doing my best with the ingredients available to me.
I love this posole recipe because it can all just go in to the slow cooker, barely any prep work is necessary. Posole is often made with pork, but I find chicken thighs to be a flavorful and more healthy way to make it. It tastes a little like deconstructed enchiladas in a bowl, and there is never anything wrong with things tasting like enchiladas.
Slow Cooker Chicken Posole
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground chipotle OR chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cut up tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 15 ounce can of white hominy, drained
2 bay leaves
For garnish: chopped radishes, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips
Combine cumin, paprika, oregano, chipotle or chili powder, salt and pepper together in bowl. Toss chicken thighs in the bowl and coat with the spices. Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker. Add all other ingredients, except for garnishes. Stir to combine and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours ( I prefer the 8 hour method). Season with more salt and pepper to taste and serve with the garnishes (the radishes sound weird but are super tasty in this soup!)