Classic Red Pork Pozole

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Pozole and Hominy Stews

This is the classic pozole of central Mexico. You might find some regional or personal variances to the cuts of pork or the combination of chiles, but if I were bold enough to serve this to a Mexican grandmother (spoiler: I’m not) I’m confident that she would recognize this recipe as pozole. And personally, I would happily eat this dish anytime.

Some families fry the chiles, as I’ve done; others just add the blended chile mixture to the broth. If you are lax about de-fatting your pork broth, avoid frying the chile paste or you’ll end up with a very greasy soup.

If you can get a pig’s head — or even half of one — it’s worth the effort. Not to be preachy, but if we’re going to eat meat, it’s important to not waste any part of the animal, even when it seems strange or gives us pause. The head has more meat than you’d think, but not enough to cover the whole recipe, so you’ll still need to supplement with pork shoulder.

FOR THE MEAT AND BROTH:

  • 2 to 4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 pound bone-in country-style pork ribs
  • 1 pig trotter (optional), chopped into 6 pieces
  • ½ of a white or yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 black peppercorns, roughly cracked

FOR THE CHILE PASTE:

  • 2 ancho chiles, wiped clean with a moist towel
  • 3 guajillo chiles, wiped clean with a moist towel
  • ½ of an onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons oil or lard

TO FINISH:

GARNISHES:

Serves 8 to 12

FOR THE MEAT AND BROTH:

  1. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, add the pork shoulder, ribs, trotter, onion, garlic, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and enough water to cover meat by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer, using a lid to help regulate temperature as needed. Skim and discard any impurities that rise to the top. Continue to simmer for several hours, until meat is tender and falling off the bones.
  2. Remove the pork pieces to a platter. Once cool enough to handle, separate the meat, discarding bones and skin. Strain the broth into a very large bowl; cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, until fat rises to the top of the bowl and congeals. Remove the fat and reserve for another use.

FOR THE CHILE PASTE:

  1. Cut chiles in half; discard seeds and stems. In a small saucepan, warm 2 cups of water over medium-low heat; turn off heat when the water is hot. Meanwhile, warm a dry comal or skillet over medium heat; toast the chiles quickly, taking care not to let the chiles burn. Soak the toasted chiles in the pan of warm water for 15 minutes.
  2. In a blender, combine the chiles, onion, garlic, and enough of the strained chile-soaking liquid to allow the blender blades to move. Blend well, scraping down the paste as needed. Use a wooden spoon to push the mixture through a wide-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding skins and seeds.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chile paste and stir immediately. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired.

TO FINISH:

  1. To the pot with the chile paste, add the re served pork meat and the drained cooked hominy. (If you are using canned hominy, rinse the kernels before using and discard the liquid.) You can break up large pieces of meat as needed, but generally they’ll do this on their own.
  2. Slowly add about 6 cups of the broth, enough to make a soupy stew, stirring constantly. If the pozole is not soupy enough to your liking, slowly add the reserved hominy-cooking liquid (or tap water, if you used canned hominy) or more broth, until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all of the ingredients are warmed through, about 20 minutes (or longer if you’ve pulled your pork and corn from the refrigerator).
  4. Ladle into bowls and serve with your preferred garnishes.
How to cook dried hominy: Sort and rinse hominy. Soak for 8 hours in cold water, then drain. Add to a large pot with 1 roughly chopped onion and cover with 2 inches of fresh water. Bring to a hard boil over high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook hominy uncovered until chewy and tender but not chalky, approximately 2 hours. Hominy usually flowers, like popcorn, when finished. Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid for later use, then drain. One pound (or 2 cups) dried hominy yields about 7 cups when cooked, and substitutes for canned hominy in recipes with none of the rubbery texture.


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