Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Muy delicioso. That’s what I have to say about Posole, a Mexican stew made with hominy, spice and pork. We only make it once a year, if even that, but when we do, it’s an occurrence worthy of a party.
Posole is a great soup, made with a spicy base and then topped at the table with radishes, cabbage, Mexican oregano, cilantro, onions, red pepper and avocado and finished with a squeeze of fresh lime. The toppings part? They’re key to the dish, so if you make this, don’t skimp on the toppings and try to duck out. (If you were only to do three, I’d suggest oregano, cabbage and radishes.)
AdRi is the magical posole chef at this house and I support her endeavors to do so. That means I play prep cook, preparing all of the toppings and stirring when necessary. Oh, and taste testing. Hey, I’m a giver.
Most items for the posole were purchased from a Mexican market, and the cuts of pork were made by the butchers at WinCo who were familiar with what we were making.
AdRi follows the recipe for posole found in the Rick Bayless book, Mexico, One Plate at a Time, and we’ve made it both with dried hominy soaked overnight, and canned. There’s not much of a difference except for amount of time it takes to cook, and the texture is a little different. So if you need to cheat out with canned hominy, it’s okay.
Red Pork and Hominy Stew/Pozole* Rojo
1.5 lbs/4 cups American Southwestern dried pozole corn (or you can do canned if you need to)
1 head garlic, cloves broken apart, peeled and halved
3.5 lbs pork shanks, cut into 1.5 inch thick pieces
1.5 lbs pork trotters (ask the butcher to cut them in half lengthwise for you)
1.5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder; cut into 3-4 large pieces
2 large white onions, chopped fine
8 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 limes, cut into wedges
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
15 radishes, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano (yes, it’s different than regular oregano)
2 tablespoons coarsely ground dried hot red chile
Measure 6 quarts of water into a large pot, add the corn and garlic. Bring to boil, partially cover and simmer gently over medium low heat until it’s tender: about 5 hours. Yes, 5 hours. You want it tender.
Place all the meats in another large pot, cover with 4 quarts of water, add 2 tablespoons salt and bring to boil. Skim off the foam and then add half the chopped onions. Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until all the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Remove the meat from the broth and let cool. Skim the fat from the broth. Pull off the meat from the pork shanks and pull the shoulder meat into large shreds. Cut the bones and knuckles out of the trotter and discard, chop what remains into ½ inch pieces. You should have about 6 cups meat in all. Cover and refrigerate if not serving within an hour.
While the corn and meat are cooking, rehydrate the ancho chiles in enough hot water to cover (lay a small plate on top to keep them submerged) for about 20 minutes. Puree the chiles, liquid and all, in batches if necessary in a blender or food processor.
When the corn is tender, press the chile mixture through a strainer directly into the simmering liquid. Add the pork broth and 1 tablespoon salt, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour.
You see this is a day-long exploration of posole making right?
Add the meat to the simmering posole and check the consistency: it should be brothy, so add water if you need to. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Ladle into bowls and allow guests to top with the radishes, chiles, oregano, chile, onion and lime as they like.
In the end you have a fragrant, steaming bowl with enough spice to clear your sinuses but not so much to blow your tastebuds. Muy delicioso. Worthy enough for a party. Or even a pachanga.
*Posole, pozole, same thing, different spelling