We may try and try again to make nut brittle on a humid day, but we avid home cooks take for granted what professional chefs can cherish only one night a week, at best: sharing those less-than-perfect dinner experiments with family and friends.
But chef Josiah Citrin and his wife Diane, owners of Mélisse, Lemon Moon (with chef partner Raphael Lunetta) and most recently, Caché, have long set aside Monday nights for family dinners. It's a night when aunts, uncles and the occasional invite-yourself-guest are always welcome for supper at their cozy Venice home -- even when said guest shows up at the door with that 100% humidity pine nut brittle. Get Diane Citrin's chicken posole recipe after the jump.
"Josiah usually cooks on Monday nights -- he likes to barbecue in the summer," says Diane, stirring a pot of posole, the hearty Mexican stew made from hominy (dried corn cooked in lye) with the help of the couple's children, Olivia and Augie. But Diane is equally at home over the stove. She and Josiah met more than fifteen years ago when they were both working at Patina, Josiah as the chef, Diane as a pastry chef.
"Or I'll do make your own sushi night on Mondays," adds Josiah, lightly tossing lettuce with Diane's balsamic dressing. Actually, Diane was tossing the salad, but ever the perfectionist, Josiah couldn't help but politely take over the tongs. "We make hand rolls -- the kids like that," he adds, putting down the tongs to uncork a bottle of wine.
The kids also happen to like salad, and lots of it. "I won't eat anything without salad," announces 9-year-old Augie, whose electric guitar was turned off for the evening. "Well, pizza. I'll eat pizza without salad... and why is this stuff called brittle? This isn't very brittle at all."
Diane Citrin's Chicken Posole
Makes: About 5 servings
1 whole chicken
1 bay leaf
3 large poblano chiles
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves
2 14 1/2 ounce cans white hominy, drained
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
3 tablespoons ground red New Mexico chiles
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes, as desired: diced jalapeño or Serrano chiles, sliced avocado, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, sour cream.
1. In a large stockpot, place the chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, bay leaf and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool, reserving the broth.
2. Meanwhile, broil the poblano peppers on a baking sheet until blackened, turning as needed, about 15 minutes.
3. In a food processor, mince the garlic. Cut the onion into chunks and pulse with garlic until chopped.
4. Dice the cooled chicken breast (reserve the legs and thighs for another use) and sprinkle with salt, to taste, and 1 teaspoon of oregano.
5. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oregano to the pan and sauté until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the ground chiles to pan and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
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6. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, or more to taste, and the hominy to the pan (reserve remaining broth for another use). Cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Remove stems, skins, and seeds from poblanos and discard. Finely chop the poblanos.
and cook until warm, 2 to 3 minutes.
8. Serve the posole in large soup bowl and pass the chicken and garnishes (avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, chiles) separately.