by guest blogger Andrew Norelli, product manager and food photographer
I don't usually equate Mexican with comfort food, but when I tried posole for the first time at a local Mexican restaurant, I instantly fell in love with its warm, comforting flavors.
Posole is a simple stew of pork, hominy, and a chile sauce. What's really special about this stew is the assortment of fantastic garnishes it's served with. Made with just the right amount of chile peppers, it gives a subtle kick of heat that warms you up.
This is a recipe I've tailored to my tastes, but I'd encourage experimenting with other dried chile varieties (you can even substitute chicken breast and/or thighs for the pork).
Serves 4-6 people, with plenty of leftoversIngredients:
- 4 ounces whole dried red chile peppers (I use a variety, but you can start with guajillo, costeña, or ancho)
- 1 large (about 28-ounce) can of white hominy (posole), drained and rinsed
- 8 cloves garlic (4 chopped fine, 4 whole)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano (Mexican oregano is preferred)
- 3-5 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1"-1.5" cubes
- Salt, to taste
- ½ small cabbage, sliced thin
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- ½ white onion, chopped fine
- 2 Hass avocados, chopped
- 4 limes, quartered
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced
- 1 jalapeño, diced
- Sour cream
- Queso fresco
- Bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a rolling boil in a medium pot. Cut away and discard stems and as many seeds as possible from the chile peppers (wearing gloves is advised during this process). In a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat, lightly roast the chile pods, turning after a few minutes, being careful not to burn them. Transfer the chile pods to the boiling water. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Place 4 whole cloves of garlic in a blender along with 2 cups of the water from the chile peppers, as well as all the chile peppers. Pulse until mixed, then add another cup of the water and continue to pulse until you can't see any large pepper bits. Don't forget to use the lid or a towel to cover the blender.
- Pour the blended sauce through a sieve into a bowl, making sure to squeeze all the juices from the peppers using the back of a large spoon. Reserve the liquid and throw away the pepper bits remaining in the sieve.
- In a stockpot, heat 3 to 5 quarts of water, bringing it to a boil while you work on the pork.
- Season the pork liberally with cracked pepper, paprika, cumin, and salt.
- In a separate stockpot or Dutch oven, working in batches to prevent crowding, sear the pork pieces over medium-high heat and remove from the pan. When all your pork is seared off, put in the 4 chopped cloves over medium heat, scraping the pork bits from the bottom of the pan.
- In the same pot as you seared the pork in, pour the hominy, cumin, and dried oregano (place the oregano into your palm and rub your hands together to grind it over the pot). Stir for a minute to coat the hominy with the herbs.
- Put the pork back into the pot and cover with your reserved boiling water and return to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Pour in the red sauce and return to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and let all cook for 2 to 4 hours. Salt to taste. Before serving, skim off the rendered fat from the top of the stew.
- Place the garnishes in the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves.
Andrew Norelli is a product manager living in Brooklyn. When he's not cooking up new products, he's cooking up meals and photographing them in the process. For more, visit ACRNorelli.com and follow him on Twitter @acnorelli.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com