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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stuart's Pozole: Recipe

I used to work with a sweet young Southern gal. She told me her aunt made the best biscuits in the world but that she wouldn't part with her secret recipe. Shame. Really. What's the point in hoarding a great recipe? I just don't get it. Giving it to a family member is one way you know the recipe will live on. And so will you.

A friend of mine died earlier this year. I didn't know him for all that long, but we did share recipes just the same. He was famous for his pozole and shared the recipe freely. Though he was ill, it didn't occur to me that he would die. I was in denial I guess. But I can't tell you how happy it makes me to cook his pozole and remember him. I can't think of a better way to be remembered.

Pozole is a soup made from hominy, red or green chiles and usually pork. It comes from Jalisco in Mexico and is traditionally served at Christmas time. This is not a quick and easy type of recipe. Though it's not very complicated it does take some time to make especially since there is a separate sauce that needs to be prepared. It's perfect to do on a slow Sunday afternoon. To make this one right, you'll need to purchase some special ingredients and have all the "fixins" to serve it with on hand. But with a little planning it isn't that hard to do really. And it's definitely worth the effort.

Note: I only made a few changes to this recipe. I decreased the amount of broth and I toasted the chiles before soaking them. I also think a little cayenne is nice to season along with salt and pepper. This combination of a stew and a soup gets better over time so make a big batch and and stick some in the freezer, it keeps very well.

Stuart's Pozole
makes a huge pot! enough for at least 8-10 servings


2 large cans white hominy (28 oz) or four 15 oz cans
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, boneless, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 white onion, diced (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1-2 carrots, diced (not too small)
2 bay leaves
white wine vinegar to taste
cayenne to taste
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup lime juice
2 quarts chicken stock
1 pint rojo sauce

Rojo Sauce
4 dried ancho or pasilla chilies
1 (15 oz.) can tomatoes
1 med. onion, cut up
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 avocado, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
6-10 radishes
3 limes, wedged
1/4 cup diced white onion
Sour cream
Mexican oregano


Cut chilies open. Discard stems and seeds. Cut chilies into small pieces with scissors or a knife. Open them up as flat as you can and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat to release the oils. Toast them for 4-5 minutes maximum. Place in bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 45 to 60 minutes. Drain.

Place tomatoes in blender container; cover and blend until nearly smooth. Add the drained chilies, onion, garlic, salt and sugar; cover and blend until smooth.

In 1 1/2 quart saucepan combine tomato mixture and cooking oil. Cook and stir over medium heat about 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Makes one pint.

1) In a large (five qt) stock pot, saute the onion (all but the reserved) and carrot in a little olive oil until tender. Don't allow them to color, just soften.

2) Add in pork shoulder to pot and cover completely with chicken stock. To this mixture add the garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until pork is fall apart tender. (usually an hour or so depending on the size of the roast.

3) Remove pork and let cool until easy to handle. Then shred with 2 forks leaving some large pieces as well. Set aside for later.

4) To the stock, return to a simmer and add the lime juice and the Rojo Sauce until the stock takes on a rich ruby hue. At this point add in the drained hominy and return to simmer. Add a splash of vinegar at this point to taste. I usually add about a tbsp for a 5 quart pot of stock.

5) When all ingredients are at a simmer, add back in the shredded pork and simmer very slowly for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add cayenne to taste.

6) Ladle into large bowls leaving plenty of room for all the goodies to come. I top mine with shredded cabbage, avocado slices, diced onion, and cilantro. Then a squeeze of fresh lime - and the topper - a sprinkle of dried Mexican oregano over the top of the whole thing. Regular oregano is OK but the Mexican variety is so much tastier in this - more earthy. Add a dollop of sour cream if you like. You can also add hot chipotle sauce or hot sauce if you like a little kick.