9 cups water, divided
1 bay leaf
1 large white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 ½ tsp salt, divided
1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lb tomatillos, husked
2 fresh jalapenos, quartered (seeds optional – see below)
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tsp dried epazote or oregano
2 T canola or olive oil
2 (15-oz) cans yellow hominy, rinsed and drained
1. Bring 8 cups water, bay leaf, half of onion, smashed garlic and 1 tsp salt to a boil, covered, in a 6-qt soup pot, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken and poach at a bare simmer, uncovered, until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let cool. Pour broth through a colander into a large bowl, discarding solids and reserve. When chicken in cool enough to handle, coarsely shred.
2. Meanwhile simmer tomatillos and remaining onion in remaining cup of water in a medium saucepan, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain vegetables and puree in a blender with jalapenos (with seeds if you like some heat, without if you’re more sensitive), ¼ cup cilantro, epazote, chopped garlic and remaining 1 ½ tsp salt.
3. Then in the now empty soup pot you used to make the broth (no need to wash it out) heat the oil until hot but not smoking, then add puree using caution as it will splatter and steam. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of reserved broth and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken, hominy and 3 more cups of reserved broth and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes.
4. Stir in remaining ½ cup cilantro and serve in deep bowls over rice.