Ahhh, Mexican Pozole.
My first encounter with a delicious bowl of pozole rojo is when I lived in “La Mission” of San Francisco during the late nineties. It was often my morning savior after a very long night of revelries. Yes, I burnt the midnight oil like most people in their twenties but, hey, I had pozole and it brought me back to life. It refilled that oil topped it right back up in fact.
The nineties were a decade where you could still find dive bars like Docs Clock and the Latin America club in full swing during the wee hours of the morning or even a late-night salsa lesson at Club Cocomo. It was also a time where life in the Mission still had that Latin heartbeat. Back then, I would spend a good portion of my time aimlessly wandering around while snacking on a chicharrón or two or scooping up some affordable produce for my flatmates, all the while taking in the sights, flavors, and smells that made the mission, La Mission.
A hot spicy bowl of pozole on a Sunday was something that could right this ship quickly before navigating to work on a busy Monday.
Here’s is where this dish is remarkable. A proper pozole is made from a robust bone stock (typically pork). That bone stock has plenty of nutrients. There is also some heat that comes from all those vitamin-rich dried chilis. The more you eat, the more water you will need; thereby hydration. Lastly, it has some friendly carbs from the hominy. Wow, lots of things at work here to make you feel good again.
Without further ado here is my nod to the Mexican (Aztec) culture for creating such a solid dish.
My 3 Tenets for a Pozole Rojo Recipe
#1 Pozole Rojo should be a thin soup. It should not be a thick stew or overflowing with hominy or pork. You will end up putting a bunch of toppings on it so no need to go thick here.
#2 You must hydrate your hominy before you cook this soup. Either overnight parboil it as it will take away a bunch of the liquid in your soup and end up losing its deep grainy corn flavor.
#3 Toast your chilis. I did the same test as Serious Eats. It definitely makes a difference when you toast them quickly. I also have Rick Bayless’s book, “Authentic Mexican” which also supports this test. One other interesting fact is in Spanish many chilis take on different words whether they are fresh or dried. Something to note when procuring ingredients.
Much like garlic, green onion and ginger form the quintessential aromatics in Chinese sauces, Ancho, Pasilla, and Guajillo form the governing body for many Mexican sauces – mole included!
Garnishing Your Pozole
The number of accompaniments you need to prepare totally up to you. I’ve had pozole in places where the cabbage portion was this massive salad and all I really wanted was more onions. Then I’ve had pozole where there are way too many limes. Everything is totally up to you but here are some staples:
- Finely diced white onion, soaked in ice water
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro sprigs
- Sprigs of freshly toasted oregano leaves
- Radishes cut super thin
- Shaved cabbage
Let’s Get to it!
Pozole Rojo Recipe
- 1/4 pound dried hominy pozole, available in Latino groceries or Wholefoods, soaked overnight in cold water and boiled for 10 minutes or pressure cooked from the dry hard good.
- 4 quarts pork bone broth
- 4 dried red New Mexico chiles or guajillos
- 4 dried pasilla chiles
- 4 dried anchos
- 2 chili de arbol for added heat
- 1 pound pork butt cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons cumin powder
- 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- Take all the chilis and toast them for about 1 min on each side. Let them cool a bit and then take the top off, ribs and seeds out. Put them in 4 cups of water and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Cool down and then blend with a CuisinArt. Get it all the way down. You want a smooth chili "milkshake" – a nice paste. If it is still too thin, simmer it some more.
- Grab a stockpot.
- Salt and pepper the pork. Sear/brown the pork on both sides in the stock pot. Browning is key. This should take about 2 min. per side. Add in all the aromatics/herbs. Stir around for a minute then add the pork stock, 1 quart of water and the chili paste "milkshake".
- Simmer for 30min.
- Add in the hydrated hominy and simmer for another 30min. You are good to go. Row the boat ashore. Hallelujah.