This is one of my favorite late-summer/early-fall dishes, with pozole (a.k.a. hominy, a delicious ingredient produced from dried maize kernels that have been treated with an alkali to make them more nutritious) and chiles evoking memories of warmer days, whilst beans and pumpkin get me in the mood for cozy fall and winter stews.
“Three Sisters” refers to the three main agricultural crops of various indigenous groups in North America: winter squash, maize (corn), and climbing beans. These plants complement each other perfectly: The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight and creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil. Nutritionally, corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and all nine essential amino acids.
I frequently feel awe-struck by our ancestors’ instinctive nutritional knowledge – they didn’t need calorie trackers, randomized placebo-controlled trials, and dietary guidelines to know what they should eat. This dish is super quick & easy to make and gets better after a day or two in the fridge. Adjust spiciness to taste.
I should point out that this stew is rather low in fat (and thus calories). To make it more filling, I suggest you top it with nutritious fats like sliced avocado, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), a drizzle of olive oil or crumbled cheese (see garnish suggestions below).
Three Sisters Green Chicken Chili
Green chili chicken with beans, posole & winter squash
- 2½ lbs chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
- 4 cups chicken bone broth
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 lb tomatillos about 12 golf-ball-sized tomatillos, husked and halved
- 1 large yellow onion roughly chopped
- 2 medium poblano peppers seeded & sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded & halved
- 6-8 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups winter squash cut into roughly ½-inch cubes; I like to use firm-cooking varities like butternut or red kuri (a.k.a. hokkaido) squash.
- 1 can pinto beans drained & rinsed (or 1¾ cups cooked from scratch)
- 1 can pozole (hominy) drained & rinsed (or or 1¾ cups cooked from scratch)
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 cup cilantro washed & coarsely chopped - incl. stems
- The possibilities are endless: sliced avocado, lilme wedges, sliced radishes, shredded red cabbage, chopped green onions, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), finely chopped red onions, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, fresh corn kernels, hot sauce, pico de gallo, grated or crumbled cheese (e.g., queso fresco, cheddar), sour cream, warm corn tortillas.
- Place the chicken portions, chicken bone broth and spices (coeriander, oregano, bay leaves, cumin, and black pepper) in the Instant Pot. Lock the lid and cook for 15 minutes on PRESSURE, HIGH.
- Release pressure by shifting the pressure valve to VENTING (cover with a towel to contain the steam). Remove lid; using tongs, transfer chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.
- While the chicken is cooking, combine the tomatillos, onion, peppers (poblano & jalapeno), garlic and salt in a high-powered blender and process into a smooth puree. Once you have removed the chicken from the broth, pour this green puree into the Instant Pot with the chicken broth.
- Add the cubed squash, beans, and posole, lock the lid and cook on PRESSURE, HIGH for 3 minutes; release pressure imediately (as above).
- While this is happening, remove and discard the skin from the cooled chicken portions and shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the stew along with the chopped cilantro and cook for 2 minutes on SAUTE, HIGH. Then hit CANCEL.
- Add lime juice and season to taste with salt & pepper. If the soup lacks depth, add a dash of Thai fish sauce. Serve immediately with desired toppings.
- Keeps (and gets better) in the fridge for 4-5 days. Freezes well.