Posole. YUMMMMM. The festive colors of posole remind me of the Mexican flag: the chile infused soup (red); the cotija cheese (white); and the cilantro (green). You know how I feel about eating with the eyes!
It is by far one of my favorite dishes to prepare when I entertain at home. Because it makes such a vast amount, I usually reserve this recipe for a group gathering. Interest is piqued the moment guests walk through the door, as the aromas wafting from the pot are reminiscent of a South American spice stall. Passing the condiments lets guests decorate their bowls as they wish, all the while stimulating great conversation.
Pozole, which translates as “hominy,” is a traditional Mexican stew. It is commonly served on celebratory occasions, perhaps because corn was sacred to the indigenous peoples. It is beautiful and oh-so satisfying! However, you will get an entirely different glimpse of this classic dish—interesting yet quite grim and unsavory— if you read Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’ General History of the Things of New Spain.**
This hearty stew is customarily made with pork, hominy, and chiles. But as I always say, you do you. Use chicken, seafood, firm tofu—whatever you desire. That applies to the condiments, too. I like chopped red onion, lime wedges, cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, cilantro, and sometimes sour cream.
Traditional recipes will suggest using cabbage, radishes, and more oregano as condiments. (Hold the oregano between your hands over your bowl and rub until it is a fine powder, thereby releasing its earthiness.) If you can’t find cotija, you can substitute another salty goat cheese such as feta.
While you may already have Italian or Greek oregano on your spice rack, your herb of choice for this recipe should be Mexican oregano. Mexican oregano is sweeter than Mediterranean varieties. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure it comes from an entirely different plant—the verbena plant—which gives this oregano a hint of citrus. It is a beautiful complement to the flavors in traditional Mexican rojo.
Many people prefer to trim their meat before cooking. I say leave it on to create a tasty broth. Once the water used for boiling cools, skim the top. I also prefer using meat that still has its bone. It is moister and more flavorful. Yes, that does mean you will have to debone it, but it truly is better. As you debone by hand, you can also feel the pieces you want to keep or discard.
After ALL that work, I do cheat a little in the next step. The chiles and spices that create that luscious red soup are similar to enchilada sauce. Sooo, I just add a can of that instead of going through the motions of creating the rojo from scratch. I also throw in Tex Mex chili seasoning. I add half the package; the man here would add the whole thing. (I already told you he has portion control issues.)
Simmer long enough for the flavors to meld together. Then wow your guests with your culinary prowess!
I can’t wait to hear how this recipe turns out for you! Please send me comments and tag photos with #nakedepicurean.
The BEST D@mn Posole Rojo*
- 4-5ish pounds bone-in country-style ribs
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, divided (more if using as garnish)
- 1 can enchilada sauce (19 ounces)
- ½-ish package of Tex Mex chili seasoning (1.25 ounces)
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
- 4 cans of white hominy (15.5 ounce cans)
- 8 cups of pork broth
cilantro, roughly chopped
- Place pork in a big pot with enough water to cover–about 9 cups since some will cook down. Add sliced garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano and S&P. Boil the pork until the meat is soft and falling off the bone—about 1 ½ hours. Drain, reserving the meat and stock in separate containers. In total you should have 8 cups of stock. Set aside while you debone and shred the pork.
- Drain and rinse the hominy.
- Once you have skimmed excess fat from the pork stock, you can prepare the pozole sauce base. Crumble 1 teaspoon of oregano into stock. Add the enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, and Tex-Mex seasoning. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sauce starts to thicken a bit, about 45 minutes.
- Add the shredded pork and hominy. Simmer for 30-45 more minutes. The longer it cooks, the more intense the flavor is. It is even more amazing the next day.
- Ladle into bowls, and pass the condiments.
*Why is this the best d@mn posole post?
A. Because this blog is downright entertaining, and
B. Because you will use this quality recipe as your base. You will taste it along the way and modify it to your liking (as you always do). And guess what? Then you will have made the best d@mn posole you have ever put in your mouth–according to you. I mean, isn’t that how it works? We only say something is the best if we really, really like it. You would never say, “I didn’t like that movie, but it was the best!” Right? So modify away. But I’m pretty sure this recipe is spot on for the most crave-inducing and robust Mexican stew you have ever put in your mouth.
**ONLY READ THIS HISTORY OF POSOLE IF YOU ARE NOT EASILY UNNERVED
In case you are not up for reading Sahagún’s anthropological accounts, I will divulge them here. He refers to adding to the stew the hearts of those who had been sacrificed. I assure you no such brutality took place in my kitchen.
There are still more grim details. Message me if you want to hear them. 🙂