Mexican Heat (in a bowl) for a Cold Rainy Day
By Chef David Hall, CGC
This past rainy weekend was ideal for a bowl of warm hearty soup. The challenge was is I don’t typically enjoy soups because they do not satisfy me for too long. Like Chinese food, an hour later and I am hungry for more. That is, unless the soup is a robust spicy Mexican soup. My two favorites are Birria and Pozole. So off to the store I went to grab a few ingredients for Pozole (pronounce Poh-SOLE-lay).
Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico. It was mentioned in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s “General History of the Things of New Spain” circa 1500 CE. It is made from nixtamalized cacahuazintle corn (or hominy), with meat, usually pork, chicken, turkey, pork rinds, chili peppers, and other seasonings and garnish. It is a typical dish found in various states such as Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco and Morelos.
While there are many variations, the hominy remains one of the star ingredients that bring a nutty flavor and wonderfully chewy texture to this Mexican culinary delight. My recipe below is a fast version because I used my pressure cooker to quickly cook and tenderize the tough pork rib meat. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, plan on braising the meat for several hours until fork tender. The meat should practically fall apart. You could also make a vegetarian version by substituting your favorite veggies for the meat; just don’t cook it too long or you will have vegetable mush (not so appealing).
Chef David’s Pozole
1 – tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ to 2 – pounds, boneless pork rib meat
1 – large onion, diced
4 – garlic cloves, minced
1 – 15.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 – 15.5 oz. cans of white hominy, reserving the drained liquid
2 – 15.5 oz. cans of yellow hominy, reserving the drained liquid
1 – 14.5 oz. can of Hatch Mild Red Enchilada Sauce (only the Mild is gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon, chipotle powder
2 – teaspoons, fresh oregano, chopped
- Season the meat with some salt and pepper.
- Pour some canola in the bottom of a pressure cooker heated over high heat and sear/brown the meat in small batches, removing the meat after each batch is browned.
- Deglaze the pan with the diced onions and sauté until slightly caramelized then add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
- Add a little of the drained liquid from the hominy and scrape the bottom of the pot to free up any remaining “fond”.
- Add the meat to the pressure cooker and add just enough of the hominy liquid to cover the meat, attach the lid and cook the meat for 50 minutes.
- Release the pressure and check for fork tender. Cook longer if needed, but it is unlikely you will need to do so.
- Break up the meat into bite-sized pieces then add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Serve hot with any of the following garnishes: avocado, lemon, Napa cabbage, limes, cilantro, sour cream, salsa or cheddar cheese.