1 4½- to 5-poundyoung chickenquartered, plus the giblets except the liver
2garlic clovespeeled and minced
½teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
For sopa de pollo
6long green chiles
3cupsfinely chopped onion
3garlic clovespeeled and minced
2cupschicken brothhomemade or canned
2cupstomato-based bottled hot salsa
2recipesabout 8 cups Pollo Deshebrada, chopped
About 2 cups corn oil
24 6-inchcorn tortillas
4cupsgrated cheesepreferably a combination of Monterey Jack cheese and medium-sharp cheddar cheese
16ouncessour creamwhisked until smooth
Shredded romaine and additional salsaoptional
For pollo deshebrada
In a wide 5-quart pan, arrange the chicken quarters in a single layer. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch (2½ quarts) and set over medium heat. Stir in the giblets, garlic, oregano, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pan and lower the heat. Simmer the chicken, turning it once at the halfway point, until the meat is tender and falling from the bone, about 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, set it on a rack, and let the chicken cool to room temperature, uncovered, in the poaching liquid. Drain the chicken and strain and degrease the broth, reserving it for another use. Skin the chicken, remove and shred the meat. Cover and refrigerate. The chicken can be cooked up to 1 day ahead.
For sopa de pollo
In the open flames of a gas burner or under a preheated broiler, roast the long green chiles, turning them, until they are lightly but evenly charred. Steam the chiles in a paper bag, or in a bowl, covered with a plate, until cool. Rub away the burned peel. Stem and seed the chiles and coarsely chop the them. There should be about 1 cup.
In a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, covered, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes.
Stir in the chicken broth, salsa, green chiles, and salt and raise the heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat slightly, and cook briskly, uncovered, stirring once or twice, for 20 minutes. Cool the sauce to room temperature. Reserve 2 cups of the sauce and combine the remainder with the chicken. The recipe can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the reserved sauce and the chicken mixture separately. Return both to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. In a deep skillet, warm about 1 inch of corn oil over medium heat. Using tongs, immerse the tortillas one at a time in the oil, turn them, and then transfer them to absorbent paper. The tortillas should be in the oil no more than a few seconds, and the oil should be hot enough to soften the tortillas but not so hot that the edges begin to crisp.
Arrange 8 of the tortillas in an overlapping layer in the bottom of a 10-by 14-inch baking dish about 2 inches deep. Spread half the chicken over the tortillas. Arrange 8 most of the tortillas in an overlapping layer over the chicken. Sprinkle half the cheese over these tortillas. Spread the remaining chicken mixture over the cheese. Arrange the remaining 8 tortillas over the chicken. Spread the reserved sauce over these tortillas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce. Spread the sour cream evenly over the cheese.
Bake about 45 minutes, or until the sopa is crisp around the edges and bubbling and the topping is set. Let the sopa stand on a rack for 5 minutes before serving. Cut it into rectangles to serve, and accompany it with shredded romaine and salsa, if desired.
This recipe is entirely from The El Paso Chile Company's Texas Border Cookbook, by W. Park and Norma Kerr.