Leftovers out in the West Texas town of El Paso

Day Two of what to do with left over turkey:

We abstained from turkey on Friday so it doesn’t look so intimidating on Saturday. Feeling the pangs of chile withdrawal and remembering what was on hand, I decided to make posole de cocono – a soup of turkey, hominy and chile. (Hominy is posole in Spanish.) Red chile pork sole is a favorite breakfast on a cold morning at Sofi’s restaurant. Green chile chicken posole is another favorite version. During the holidays I like to my  Christmas posole – a clear seasoned broth with chicken bowls of both red and green chile on the side so people can add the one they want or a little of both.

Last summer I discovered a restaurant in Las Vegas, NM’s historical downtown district that served Nixtamal as a side dish. I liked it and was happy to discover a couple of local groceries carry it.  Nixtamal is slaked corn. That means dried corn soaked in a solution of water and lime. I read several articles on making Nixtamal and was more than glad to find it already slaked and frozen. I rinsed thoroughly to be sure the lime was gone before cooking it. Nixtamal can be boiled and soaked for 2 to 24 hours, depending on what you want to use it for: for hominy, boil 15 minutes and soak for 15 minutes; for tamale dough, boil 15 minutes and let soak for one and a half hours; for tortillas, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let soak overnight.

I was intent on making posole also used as the name for the soup containing chile, hominy and meat. I read that for hominy, you rub the hull off the kernel. The hull looks for like a dark spec on the tip of the kernel. A thin Tough skin clings to that speck and comes off with it.  The suggested removal method was using your fingers to rub it off or to pick it off. “Ha!” I said, “What difference could that make?”  It made a big difference; it took about two hours for the Nixtamal to soften to a comfortable chew state.  My package of Nixtamal was two pounds. I reserved a pound for another experiment. I will take the time to rub the hulls off then. I used a favorite short cut for my red chile sauce. El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque makes a wonderful line of chile sauces and salsas.  The red chile sauce and green chile sauce are staples in my pantry so I can make red or green enchiladas in a hurry if I don’t want to spend a morning making them from scratch. I mix the red sauce with an equal amount of water an sometimes add a little oregano and garlic to it. I don’t dilute the green sauce. It is huevos rancheros right out of the jar.

Back to my turkey posole…

Turkey leftovers El Paso style – a posole with turkey, Nixtamal and red chile. Sometimes diced onion and dried oregano are sprinkled on top at other times shredded cabbage and chopped radishes are the garnishes of choice. I’ll have to call this a Nixtamal rather than a posole.

This is a toss it in the pot as you go recipe.  Measures listed are a suggestions, not an exact formula

Turkey Nixtamal


1/2 medium onion, diced

1 Tbsp olive or canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

four cups water

1 lb frozen Nixtamal, thawed

1 lb leftover turkey, chopped into 1/2 or so cubes

8 oz (1/2 jar) El Pinto red chile sauce

diced onion for garnish

dry oregano for garnish

lime wedges to serve (optional)

salt to taste


In a large (2 to 3 qt) saucepan, sauté onion for five minutes until translucent, then sauté garlic about three minutes until tender

add Nixtamal and simmer until nearly tender, making sure Nixtamal stays covered in water (at least an hour to an hour and a half)

When Nixtamal is deemed tender, add cubed turkey and bring to temp.

Add chile, taste and thin a little bit if needed. El Pinot medium chile is a good bet for heat. I eat hot chile, but find the hot sauce a little strong.

Let mixture in pot simmer to blend in the chile flavor.  I spoon out a Nixtamal kernel to taste when judging readiness.

Serve in bowls and let diners garnish with onion and oregano or with shredded cabbage and diced radishes if desired.  A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also good.

Lessons learned:

Nixtamal has a better flavor than canned hominy.  Hull the Nixtamal if you want to use it. Allow plenty of cooking time. Maybe next time cook the Nixtamal a day ahead.  And, try more ways to used Nixtamal in the future.

2 thoughts on “Leftovers out in the West Texas town of El Paso

  1. fromthefamilytable

    Your posole looks delicious. A winter favorite that our family always asks for when they visit. Years ago when I started my blog I made piñon/chamisa ash in the back yard and then made my own nixtamal. I also used pickling lime. Then I tried a matate I inherited from my father but I also have a mill to grind it into masa. All of that worked but now I just buy posole and masa at the store. I highly recommend that approach.

    • JimHastings

      I find ready-made can be great, but there are times when you just have to do it. I can see you smoking jalapeños, too.
      I admire the spirit of gustatory adventure. We are getting a Whole Paycheck about a mile from my house next year. Look out then!

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