If you found yourself wishing for a hangover cure this New Year’s Day, you might want to remember this recipe for next year.
Pozole, a rich, meaty Mexican stew brimming with hominy and pork, is a dish that is served both on festive occasions and as a humble, ribsticking everyday meal. It’s also touted as a universal remedy for late nights and hangovers, which makes it the perfect dish for the morning after.
In Mexico, there is a great national love of pozole, which is a direct descendant of the ancient food eaten by pre-Hispanic people. Each region of Mexico has its own version of pozole, but de-hulled white corn, known as “hominy” in the US, is the common ingredient to all of them.
Traditional pozole recipes come in three main types: white, with a clear broth; green, made with pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), tomatillos and green chiles; and red, with a hearty red broth spiced up with a puree of dried chiles. There is plenty of room for improvisation and there are as many variations on the dish as there are cooks. In most versions, pork is the preferred meat, but chicken or beef – even seafood – are common ingredients.
Our version of the venerable soup feeds 4 – 6, depending on appetites. This recipe is easy to double or triple, so make a large enough batch to feed a crowd or save for leftovers. Like most soups & stews, pozole just gets better with reheating. Since it’s so easy to make ahead of time and reheat, pozole makes a perfect winter meal, with all of the homey “comfort food” qualities that we enjoy. It’s a one-pot meal, too – no side dishes are needed, except for the various condiments that can be added individually at that table.
Many traditional pozole recipes start with an entire pig’s head, which requires intensive preparation and long cooking – a task that not many of us are prepared to tackle these days. To streamline the recipe for modern cooks, we substituted chunks of fresh pork belly simmered together with meaty pork shoulder until both were falling-apart tender. You can even skip the pork belly if you have to, but it gives the soup a hearty flavor and especially rich texture that shouldn’t be missed.
Pozole Rojo (Mexican Pork and Hominy Soup with Chiles)
- 3 15-oz cans Mexican-style hominy, drained & rinsed
- 1 oz dried Ancho chiles
- 1 oz dried guajillo chiles
- 1 oz dried red New Mexico chiles
- 2 pounds fresh pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 pound fresh pork belly, cut in 1 inch cubes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- 6 cups chicken stock, more as needed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- White onion, finely diced
- Radishes, thinly sliced
- Shredded cabbage
- Lime wedges
- Chopped cilantro
- Toasted dried oregano
- crushed red chiles
Season the cubes of pork shoulder and belly generously with salt and pepper. Heat the chicken stock in a large pot over medium heat. Add the pork and bring to a gentle boil briefly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Skim fat & scum from the surface of the broth as it accumulates. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf and continue to cook until the meat is very tender, about 1 hour, adding more stock or water if necessary.
Stir in the rinsed & drained hominy and return to a simmer. Taste for seasonings and add salt & pepper as needed. Continue to cook until the hominy kernals have become soft and plump, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Toast the dried chiles in the pan in batches, pressing them down with a spatula, until they are fragrant and slightly blistered. Do not allow to scorch or burn. Remove the toasted chiles to a baking sheet and allow to cool. Cut or break the chiles open and remove and discard stems and seeds. Scissors and gloves are highly recommended – whatever you do, be careful not to touch any sensitive areas with chiles on your hands. Once the stems and most of the seeds have been removed, place the toasted chiles into a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them soak until they are soft and pliable, about 20 minutes. Drain the softened chiles and put them into a blender or food processor. Process or blend on high to purée the chiles, adding water as needed, until they become a smooth paste, about the consistency of a milkshake. Press the paste through a fine mesh sieve or strainer to remove the skins and any remaining seeds. This should yield enough chile paste for several batches of pozole.
Stir a quarter cup of the pureed chile mixture into the soup, taste for seasoning and add more puree until you reach the desired level of heat & flavor. (Additional chile purée can be served on the side for those who like things spicy.)
To serve, ladle generous portions into large bowls. Set out a selection of garnishes so your guests can add them to their own taste.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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