Christmas is the perfect time for red velvet. It’s the festive color of the season, and it is just so fun. I’ve made Red Velvet Polka Dot Cookies and Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes, and experiment with even more ideas. But this may be the most practical. Pound Cake is such a holiday staple – it’s easy to make, keeps well and freezes beautifully. Serve hefty slices with whipped cream or ice cream and some festive sprinkles for a dessert, or smaller slices on a buffet. Wrap a loaf in plastic wrap with pretty ribbon and it makes a beautifully fun, festive gift. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would be lovely baked in those little decorated paper mini loaf pans as a gift.
I’ve added a simple glaze (skip it for freezing or wrapping) because it adds a lovely snowy top, but the cake is rich and lovely without it. I’ve even sprinkled the glaze with sparkling sanding sugar to give it a real winter wonderland effect.
Red Velvet Pound Cake
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ Tablespoons red food coloring
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
½ cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon buttermilk
Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan or use baking spray like Bakers’ Joy.
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring on slow speed.
Sift the flour, salt and cocoa together in a bowl. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and add to the buttermilk in the measuring jug. Beat the dry ingredients into the butter and egg alternately with the buttermilk in three additions, mixing well after each and scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake for about 50 minutes or until cake is done and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan about 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Glaze:
Whisk together the powdered sugar and buttermilk until you have a runny galze (use a bit more buttermilk if needed. Pour the galze evenly over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
Holiday shopping season is upon us once again, and I love to share gift ideas for the food lovers in your life. As always, these are just some ideas about personal favorites – no one has asked me to promote any products. To get a good look at all this year fun finds, follow me on Pinterest.
You can’t go wrong with a good gift of food, and if you don’t get around to going homemade, here are a few recommendations. Classic cakes from Sugaree’s Bakery taste like you made them yourself. And the fabulous, unique caramels like Old Fashioned and Artisan Beer and Pretzel from Shotwell Candy are a real treat. Ricki’s Chipsticks are a chocolate chip cookie with a real difference- and highly addictive! A special gift for any cook would be a subscription to BeshBox – a monthly box of recipes, tools and ingredients straight from New Orleans chef John Besh.
I think a cookbook is about the best gift there is, and the book I am hoping to find under the tree is The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford, a beautiful reworking of a true classic. These practical and pretty little Short Stack editions are a lovely gift for the cookbook lover, covering my favorite ingredients like buttermilk, grits, sweet potatoes and more. Tara Desmond will jazz up all your meals with Choosing Sides, a wonderful book of creative side dishes. Or make eating your veggies more delicious with Sarah Copeland’s beautiful Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite. And for a rollicking good read (fiction this time), Cinnamon and Gunpowder combines food and pirates!
Grocery lists, recipe notes, photos of your favorite meals…keep them together in these bespoke notebooks and albums. Pick a color and the text to imprint. Whether its making recipe notes, coaching the team or keeping the gift list in order, do it on style with these fabulous personalized clipboards. And it’s fun to make all those notes and lists with these fun Dewdrop Designs pencils. A beautiful ceramic piece from Ceramica Botanica is a work of art and useful in the kitchen. And I would love one of these beautiful personalized mixing bowls from Ice Milk Aprons Southern artisan collection under the tree. This fun Gastronomy cutting board features a map of the US with made up of local specialties.
I keep a fun, bright Scout Deano bag in the back of my car – it’s great for groceries, farmers market finds or anything thing that tends to move around. You can even get it personalized. And I love the hand-printed fabrics on Pomegranate’s aprons. And if you’ll bring the snazziest dish to your next potluck in this classic canvas carrier.
For the gourmand in your life who deserves a little out of the kitchen pampering, Laura Mercier’s hand cream set includes fresh fig, crème de pistache, honey almond milk and crème brulee fragrances. And what Southern girl (or lover of all things Southern) wouldn’t love some Sweet Tea Body Scrub from Farmhouse Fresh
But maybe the best gift of all is giving on behalf of someone you love to someone in need. There are so many great organizations to give to that will create special cards you can wrap up for your recipient or have it sent directly to them. Women for Women International is an amazing organization that works to raise women and girls out of poverty around the world. They have a whole selection of gift donations.
And as food banks are under more strain than ever, Give-A-Meal through Feeding America to a family in need in honor of a family you love. And remember your local food bank with monetary donations or canned goods.
For some more ideas about my favorite fun kitchen finds, book and movies – check out The Spoon’s Store, powered by Amazon. Just click on the box on the right hand side of the page.
In the kitchen, surrounded by a surfeit of holiday baking supplies, I had a sudden craving for Hello Dolly Bars. I love Hello Dollies (or Seven Layer Bars or Magic Bars, whatever you call them), but they are not something I generally make, because I have lots of friends for whom it’s their standard recipe for to parties and weekends away. So I generally rely on others for my dolly fix. But standing there, with that craving, I suddenly thought I could get a little creative. I simply substituted warm, spicy speculoos cookies in the crust and added cinnamon chips to the butterscotch. I left out the coconut, because I don’t love it, but also because I think it takes away from the unique spicy note of this version of the classic.
Spiced Dolly Bars
2 (8.8 ounce) packages Biscoff cookies (about 60 cookies)
½ (1 stick) cup butter, melted and cooled
1 (14 – ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (11-ounce) package butterscotch chips
1 (10-ounce) package cinnamon baking chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with foil, with the edges overhanging. Use non-stick foil if you can, spray it well with cooking spray if you can’t.
Break the cookies into the bowl of a food processor and girnd to crumbs. Add the melted butter an process until themixture comes together. Press the crumbs in a layer on the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure there are no holes. Pour the condensed milk over the crust, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the butterscotch and cinnamon chops over evenly over the crust, then the walnuts. Gently press the chips and nuts into the condensed milk.
Bake the bars for 25 minutes, until everything is bubbly. It will look a little liquid, but will firm up as it cools. Cool the bars completely, then lift the whole thing out of the pan using the overhanging foil.
Makes 16 bars
My mother used to make a dish she called Hot Browns on cold nights when we were kids. I loved hot brown nights. I didn’t know that Hot Browns were a real dish, something with a history and many fanatical supporters and traditionalists, I just thought it was something yummy my mom invented, specific to our house. I have to admit that my mom’s version was not traditional. It involved sliced turkey, ham and cheddar cheese soup from a can. My mom always made them in these white porcelain dishes that I think of today as Hot Brown dishes.
As an adult, who cooks the vast majority of the Thanksgiving meal, I have asked my mom to make Hot Browns with the leftover turkey. So it occurred to me some years ago that I should develop a recipe for this favorite treat. In researching the idea, I discovered how serious the discussion of the Kentucky Hot Brown is, with fervent camps for versions with sliced tomatoes, and those without. I even had a Hot Brown in Kentucky that had potato chips piled on top. But I didn’t necessarily want to share the classic recipe, but to re-create the memory from my childhood. So I call these Tennessee Hot Browns to stay out of the battle. I like lots of cheddar cheese, and no tomatoes, but crispy bacon is always a good thing. The sandwiches are hot and cheesy and comforting and perfect for a long weekend.
Tennessee Hot Browns
½ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
6 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (plus a little for sprinkling)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices white bread
About 2 pounds sliced roasted turkey
8 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then whisk in the flour until smooth and pale in color. Whisk in the milk, cooking until the sauce is thick. Whisk in the cheese and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the broiler of your oven. Lay a slice of bread in the bottom of each of four oven proof dishes. If you don’t have individual dishes, lay the bread in a 13 by 9 inch dish. Layer the turkey on top of the bread, then pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the top of each sandwich. Broil the hot browns until the tops are speckled brown and bubbling, about 5 minutes – but watch carefully. Lay the bacon slices on top of the hot browns and serve immediately.
Makes 4 sandwiches
The beautiful orangey amber cubes dress up any autumn platter. This is a quick pickle, one for the refrigerator not the canning process. Make it ahead of your holiday cooking as the flavor needs a little time to develop.
Cutting the butternut can be a little time consuming, but a little patience and sharp, sturdy knife will pay off. I really prefer to have small pieces, and I admit I use my as-seen-on-TV onion chopper. The small pieces are so versatile, making this a relish to serve alongside roasted turkey or pork, or a great topping for bruschetta or a sandwich.
1 ½ pounds cubed, peeled butternut squash (1 large butternut, about 2 pounds)
2 ½ cups cider vinegar
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
2 cinnamon sticks
Peel the butternut completely, making sure to remove all the skin. Cut the squash in half and scrap put all the seeds and fibrous insides. Get it all out. Cut the butternut into small cubes. Place the cubed butternut in a large bowl
In a high-sided pan, combine the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and add the pickling spice and cinnamon sticks. Boil for five minutes. Pour the boiling syrup over the butternut in the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 8 – 12 hours, which can easily be overnight.
Drain the syrup from the butternut back into the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the butternut with the cinnamon sticks, bring to the boil and boil for five minutes. Remove from the heat.
Spoon the squash into sterilized jars, pressing down lightly to fill. Pour over the syrup, covering the squash in the jars. There may be extra syrup; discard it. Screw the caps on the jars, leave to cool and then refrigerate for at least a week, but up to a month unopened. Once opened, use quickly.
Makes 2 half-pints
Thanksgiving leftovers for me are generally of the sandwich variety. I love leftover turkey sandwiches. With cranberry sauce and a slice of dressing. I make extra dressing, bind it with eggs and cram it into a loaf pan. Baked off, it makes perfect slices to fit a sandwich. I even make some sweet-savory jams and chutneys during the summer for use on the post-Thanksgiving concoctions. My family gathers and plows through the leftovers in a laid-back feed, usually at someone else’s home (lucky me). After preparing the bulk of the Thanksgiving feast, I don’t usually have the energy to deal with another cooking project. Frankly, I don’t’ always have it in me to make stock from the turkey carcass. Mostly, it means more dirty dishes.
But last year, I put my mind to creating a hearty, warming meal using the leftover turkey with minimal work and lots of flavor. And this is my result. There are several ways to speed up this process. When you are chopping vegetables for the big meal, put some aside in a Ziploc in the fridge to use for this. Or buy a bag of frozen chopped mire-poix or soup starter when you do the big shop. I always overbuy on sage, the classic Thanksgiving herb, but use what you have on hand. I find quick-cooking wild rice easily, so look out for that and save yourself a step (though it is an easy one) of cooking the rice. I don’t always have eight cups of turkey stock leftover after I make gravy and dressing, so I make up the difference with boxed stock. Cream cheese adds a little body and tang to the final creamy product. The soup is lovely as is, but some toasted pieces of leftover dressing on top add a nice contrast.
Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Chowder with Toasted Dressing Croutons
2 cups finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cups turkey or chicken stock, or a combination
2 finely minced garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 yellow potato, finely diced
1 ½ cups quick-cooking wild rice, or 1 ½ cups wild rice cooked according to package instructions
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups diced cooked turkey
Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in a 5-quart Dutch oven in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle over 1 Tablespoon of the sage and stir well. When the vegetables are soft, add ½ cup stock and cook until the liquid is evaporated. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Pour in the remaining stock and bring to a boil. Add the remaining sage and the potato, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 1o minutes until the potatoes are becoming tender. If using quick cooking wild rice, add it now, cover the pot and cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Bring the soup to a low bubble (not boiling, but bubbling). Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and whisk a few at a time into the soup adding more as it melts. Don’t worry if it looks odd and separated at some point, just keep whisking away until the soup is smooth and creamy. Stir in the diced turkey (and cooked wild rice if that is what you are using) and cook, stirring, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Because of the potatoes and rice, you may need to be generous with the salt.
Serve immediately. Leftovers can be gently reheated until warm.
For the Croutons: Cut leftover dressing into cubes or rough pieces. Melt a Tablespoon of butter over medium high heat and toast the cubes until brown and crispy.
In case you haven’t noticed, I love cooking with buttermilk. It tenderizes, flavorizes, tangifies and creamifies anything it works with. I go out of my way to seek out good, thick country buttermilk. It is the most important ingredient in fried chicken, biscuits and cornbread. I use it in dressings, gravies, marinades, cookies cakes and pies. It is always on my refrigerator.
And one of the best resources I’ve found for buttermilk recipes is Southern Cooking by Mrs. S.R. Dull, first published in 1928. Tucked into the tightly packed pages are more recipes that use buttermilk than I could count, and I have a little post-it flag on almost all of them. I marked “Molasses Custard” on one page and recently returned to it. I hadn’t at first marking realized it was a pie filling, but figured that was even better. These old-fashioned recipes are short and not particularly detailed, and the pie crust part is just a short line at the end. But I couldn’t resist. I switched out the molasses for sorghum, because I love the earthy, Southern sweetness of the syrup.
Sorghum Buttermilk Pie
Pastry for one 9-inch pie
1 cup sorghum
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 300°. Fit the pastry into a pie plate and set aside.
Stir the sorghum, buttermilk, sugar flour and soda together in a large, high sided saucepan. Crack the eggs into the measuring jug you used for the sorghum and milk and beat together. Pour into the pan and stir to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. You might want to use a whisk to break up any flour lumps, but use a heatproof spatula while cooking.
Place the pan over medium high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan frequently to prevent scorching. The filling will bubble up so needs to be stirred and watched carefully. When it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and stir it down for a few minutes until some of the foaming subsides. Carefully pour it into the prepared crust. Fill it right to the top, if you have more in the pan than will fit in the crust, let it settle a few minutes, then gently stir the remaining filling into the crust.
Bake the pie for 40 – 45 minutes, until it is firm with just a little wobble to it. I’ve never had the filling spill over, but just to be safe I like to put a foil lined baking sheet on the rack below to catch any potential drips.
Place the pie plate on a rack to cool completely, then chill until firm.
Milky Way Cake is a classic recipe and there are versions of it all over community cookbooks and the Internet. Some are layer cakes with marshmallow frosting; some are sheet cakes with boiled fudge icing. But I like this simple Bundt version. This is a sweet cake, with a lovely caramel undernote and adding masses of thick gooey icing, in my opinion, would make this too achingly sweet and take away from the lovely flavor of the cake itself. So I just make a very simple glaze, and affix some chunks of candy bar for decoration and a little extra sweet. A cake like this is great for Halloween – and a way to use up those extra candy bars.
Milky Way Crazy Candy Bar Cake
I used seven regular candy bars and a bag of mixed mini size (smaller than funsize) Milky Way, Milky Way Dark, Snickers and Twix.
7 (1.84 ounce) Milky Way bars or the equivalent in mini size bars (about 50)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Topping:
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
6 mini sized candy bars (Milky Way or Three Musketeers)
1 bag mini candy bars (as many as you would like to use!)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Cut ½ cup (1 stick) of butter and the candy bars into pieces and place in a saucepan. Melt over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth and combined. Do not let the mixture scorch.
Meanwhile, cream the remaining ½ cup butter and the sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and baking soda alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
Pour in the melted chocolate bars and beat until thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, then turn out onto a platter.
For the topping:
Melt the cream and the candy bars in a small saucepan, or in the microwave. Stir until melted and smooth, though a few flecks of nougat is fine. Leave to cool for a few minutes while you chop the candy bars into pieces.
Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake. Use the wet glaze to affix pieces of chopped candy bar to the cake. Sprinkle any remaining pieces around the platter.
Serves 10 – 12
I have always loved interactive food – where everyone gets to participate in the making and serving of a meal. The pizza party is a great example of this – roll out the dough, choose the toppings, assemble the pizza and watch while they bake. It’s fun for kids and grown-ups alike.
Fall and Halloween are great times to gather around a fun kitchen project. When the weather gets that little nip in the air, its nice to come inside to a warming meal. Add some pumpkin to the mix and it is a real fall meal. The pizza dough is simple to mux up and the sauce can be made ahead of time. Clear off the counter and let everyone go to work on their own creation.
Pumpkin Pizza Dough
1 Tablespoon active yeast
1 teaspoon honey
½ cup warm water (about 110°)
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup pumpkin puree (from a 15 ounce can, remainder reserved)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the honey and pour over the warm water. Give it a little stir and let it sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, pumpkin, olive oil and salt and mix with the dough hook on a low setting until it all comes together. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Work the dough with hook on low speed for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is a soft, elastic ball that has cleaned all the flour and bits off the sides of the bowl. Push the dough back down if it starts to push over the top of the dough hook.
When the dough is kneaded, transfer the dough ball to a bowl greased with olive oil. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Punch down the risen dough and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle your counter lightly with corn meal. Divide the dough into 2 balls and shape each into a smooth disc Working one ball at a time, use your hands to push the dough outward from the center, turning the dough ¼ turn as you go, until you have a nice round pizza, about 10 – 12 inches around. Push and stretch the dough outward from the middle until it wont’ stretch any more. Leave the pizza base to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with the next disc.
Carefully transfer the pizza base to a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil. If it loses its shape, press it back into the round. Use your fingertips to press indentions in the dough to prevent it from bubbling up.
Spread on the tomato – pumpkin sauce and the toppings of your choice. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese toppings are melted.
-You can make this a perfectly round pizza, or go more free form, just make sure the finished dough fits on your baking sheet. If you are more artistic than me, shape the dough like a pumpkin.
-You can make four individual pizzas if you prefer.
-If you only want one pizza, freeze the second disc in a ziptop bag for up to a month.
Pumpkin Pizza with Taleggio, Pancetta and Fried Sage
Pumpkin – Tomato Pizza Sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions (from about 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoon vermouth or white wine
the remaining pumpkin puree from making the dough (about 2/3 cups)
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Place the olive oil and chopped onions in a high sided saucepan and sauté over medium high heat until translucent and soft and beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the vermouth, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are a pale golden color. If the onions need to cook a bit longer to reach golden, add a few tablespoons of water and cook until its evaporated.
Add the tomato sauce and pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Stir in ½ cup of water, the sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently to prevent scorching., about 10 minutes.
The sauce can be made up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Makes 1 ½ cups
Leftover sauce is excellent on pasta, particularly a cheese tortellini.
Taleggio cheese, prosciutto or cooked pancetta and fried sage leaves
Fontina cheese, cooked Italian sausage, thinly sliced red onion
Shaved parmesan cheese Roasted red and yellow pepper strips and mushrooms
Mozzarella cheese and bacon
Pumpkin Pizza with Fontina and Italian Sausage
One of the great joys of my life in food is meeting other food writers in amazing places. This winter, I had the great pleasure of spending an amazing week at a writing workshop in Tepotzlan, Mexico at Cocinar Mexicano. Iconic food writer Betty Fussell lead a spectacular group of women through the birth of some great writing projects. Tepotzlan is nestled in the mountains of central Mexico and the stunning scenery lends a magical air. And it is the loudest place I have ever visited. I was there for the festival of the Three Kings, which went on for days, but there were several other festivals that week as well. Locals assured us that with the different barrio festivals, saints’ days and general holidays, there is pretty much a festival every week of the year. The sounds of bands playing in processions, cars honking in celebration, dogs barking with excitement, church bells pealing and intermittent bursts of fireworks makes the town a cacophonous but joyous place. The experience inspired me and opened my mind and really got my creative juices flowing.
Adding to the wall-to-wall inspiration was some of the best food I’ve had the pleasure to eat. The central market is bursting with chilies of every type, fresh and dried, and more varieties of corn than I can begin to list. Stallholders make and sell fresh tortillas made to order from that corn, filled with all manner of delicious things. I ate squash blossoms every day, sampled several delicious mole sauces, experienced huitlachoce, a rich, mushroomy corn fungus, in all manner of dishes and even crunched on some fried crickets. I learned to make tamales and tortillas myself, and reveled in devouring the results.
But I knew pozole was the dish I would try to re-create at home. I had a number of versions of this classic Mexican hominy soup, at the cooking school, the lovely hotel and in the market. Some were red with chiles, others were so rustic, the bones were still in the bowl. I had it with pork, chicken and a combination of the two. The prettiest and freshest version was served by the wonderful cooks at Cocinar Mexicano, a simple, rich, flavorful broth with tender meat and hominy , served with a beautiful array of toppings. And this dish is all about the toppings. Bright and colorful with different textures, they elevate this soup. This is interactive eating at its best. I had never had radishes as a soup garnish, but I am a convert and I promise the slight peppery crunch adds a wonderful touch.
Posole (Mexican Chicken and Hominy Soup)
When I make stock and want to include the meat in the finished dish, I use chicken pieces instead of a whole bird because you end up with more meat. You’ll have some leftover, which is never a bad thing.
3 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 ounces salt pork
1 large white onion, cut in half
3 celery sticks, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
1 jalapeno pepper
1 red pepper, like Fresno
1 head garlic, cloves separated
7 – 8 stems cilantro
2 limes, cut in half
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy
Finely diced radishes
Finely diced red onion (I soak the diced onions in water about 30 minutes to take away the bite)
Crumbled queso fresco cheese
Crispy fried tortilla strips or crushed chips
Place the chicken pieces, pork and vegetables, cilantro and lime in a large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven or stock pot. Add 12 cups of water. Bring almost to a boil over high heat, turn down to low, cover the pot and simmer for 4 – 6 hours, until you have a nice, rich stock.
Line a large colander with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. Remove the chicken pieces to another bowl or plate, then carefully strain the stock through the colander. Let the stock cool, then skim the fat from the top. I always refrigerate the stock, then simply remove the solidified fat from the top of the liquid.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, removing any fat or gristle as you go. Shred the chicken into thick strands.
You can make the stock up to two days ahead. Place the chicken meat in a ziptop bag, cover the stock and keep in the fridge.
When ready to serve, transfer the stock to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Rinse the hominy thoroughly and drain. Add to the simmering stock, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the hominy is tender. Add about 4 cups of shredded chicken and simmer until heated through.
Spoon the soup into large bowls, making sure there is plenty of hominy and chicken in each bowl.
Serve with the beautiful array of toppings for everyone to add as they please.