I have to admit, somewhat reluctantly, that I had no clue what pozole was before stumbling across a recipe at the farmer’s market. It sounded interesting enough, so I brought it home… and promptly threw it away when cleaning the kitchen. (Oops.) This started me on a Google quest for a pozole recipe to replace the one I’d lost.
I happened to stumble across the Wikipedia article for it, which may be the most awesome article ever:
Since corn was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of corn (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mexicans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough). According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on these special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human. After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with corn. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it “tasted very similar”, according to a Spanish priest.
Lacking a proper source for human meat (ewwww), I decided that pork was probably the way to go. Best as I can tell from my search, no two people make pozole the same way, but everyone has an opinion about how everyone else is Doing it Wrong, and on an Earth-shattering scale of wrongness at that.
The only common ingredients that I could find: pork, hominy, onion, chiles. The proportions and varieties differ from recipe to recipe.
I’ll tell you upfront that mine is extremely mild, but you can adjust the heat with the chile sauce. (And, honestly, if you don’t feel like steeping dried chiles, use 1/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce. I won’t tell.)
- 6 dried chiles de arbol (long, skinny red peppers)
- 3 ancho chiles (large, wrinkled and almost black)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4-5 lbs pork shoulder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- Kosher salt
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 6-8 cups chicken broth
- 1 29-oz can hominy, rinsed and drained
Tear stems off the dried chiles and shake out as many seeds as possible. Put the chiles into the cup that accompanies your hand blender, or toss them in your regular blender. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. Add garlic and salt and blend until smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a bowl. Discard the solids.
Divide the pork into three large chunks, trimming excess fat. Coat with cumin and salt.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat oil until shimmering. Sear pork on all sides. Set aside.
Add a tiny bit more oil and saute onions and garlic until soft. Return pork to the pot or transfer the pork, garlic and onions to a slow cooker.
Cover with enough liquid to submerge the pork.
Add oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 cup of the chile sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Allow the pork mixture to simmer for 3 hours or more on the stovetop, or 6 hours or more in the slow cooker, until the pork is fall-apart tender.
Remove the pork from the pot. Skim excess fat from the pork liquid. Shred pork with two forks. Return the pork to the liquid.
Add hominy and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until heated through.
It’s recommended to be served garnished with avocado, chopped onion, sliced radishes and the remaining chile sauce (or a bottle of Cholula). Make the kids happy and serve it with tortilla chips.
The Tiny Kitchen Assistant insisted that I add black beans to the stew “so it’s a whole meal in one.” You may prefer to be more of a purist and go with the straight up meat-and-hominy combination. He loves to scoop it up with tortilla chips, like meaty nachos.
The Husband took leftovers for lunch: the ultimate compliment.