Now that the weather is cooling off you will see more and more signs that say "Rico Pozole". Mexican Pozole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay) is a great favorite in Mexico and there are many variations. I like the version that is made by my suegra (mother-in-law), María del Carmen Hernández Baltazar. The following is her recipe that was handed down from her mother and her grandmother and is well over a hundred years old at least and probably goes back a lot farther. I asked her dozens of questions about her pozole and then followed the recipe myself just to make sure that I got it right. I am sure that you will like it too. There is nothing heartier than a good bowl of pozole.
1 kilo “ maíz blanco” (white corn) or "cacahuazintle" (kah-kah-wah-SEENT-leh). This is a very large-kerneled white corn grown in Mexico. It is commonly known as “maíz pozolero”.
3 tablespoons slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), which is called “cal” (pronounced “kahl”) in Mexico and can be found in a Mexican grocery store or Mexican market. This is for processing the maiz by removing the outer husks in a process called “nixtamalization” (see below). You may also find maíz pozolero already processed and sold in plastic bags. It comes in two forms, one with the pedicels (little dark seed germ heads) intact and one with the pedicels already removed. You can use either form but the maíz with the pedicels removed makes a better pozole. You can also use canned hominy but it won't be as good as the traditional method of making your own hominy from dried corn or buying hominy already prepared by the nixtamalization process.
4 large dried chiles anchos
4 large dried chiles guajillos
1 Medium white onion
1 small head of garlic
1 very large or two medium cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
Note: For very traditional pozole people use the head of a pig for the meat and broth. For the amount of pozole in this recipe a half of a pig's head would do quite nicely. However, pozole made by using a pig's head is a bit thick and gelatinous and some people don't like it that way or else are a bit squeamish about using it. In lieu of a a pig's head you can always substitute the following which is the way many Mexican people make it these days:
2 pork shank bones (called codillo in Spanish). These are the bones that go from the shoulder of the pig to the front knees. Have the butcher cut them in half crosswise to expose the marrow.
1 kilo of pork neck (or spine) bones (called espinazo in Spanish).
1 kilo of pork shank bones with meat on them sliced crosswise in one inch thick slices (called chamorro in Spanish). The reason for using the pork shank bones in this manner is to obtain the meat but also to expose the bone marrow for making a good broth. Good bones make good broth. If you can't get pork shank cut in this way then you can substitute pork shoulder for the meat and add more neck bones.
2 medium white onions chopped.
¼ head of lettuce chopped
1 bunch of radishes sliced
A small quantity of oregano
Several limes cut in half
A fair amount of corn tostadas
Chile hot sauce for more “heat” in the pozole if you like, and your favorite Mexican salsa for the tostadas.
Preparing the hominy or “nixtamal”:
Add 3 quarts of water to a large noncorrosive stainless steel, or well enameled pot. Place the pot over high heat and add the slaked lime (cal) and stir until it is dissolved. Add the corn into the lime water, stirring gently. Use a slotted spoon and remove any kernels that float to the top of the water. Allow the water to boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the corn to soak for about an hour. Wash the corn very thoroughly by putting it into a colander and place it under running water. Rub the corn between your fingers to loosen and remove the outer hulls. Continue washing until the corn is all white (except the tips). It is very important to remove all of the lime (cal) or it won't taste good. Drain the corn well. The cleaned and prepared corn is called "nixtamal" or "nixtamalado". At the tips of the kernels you will see the little brownish black seed germ heads or “pedicels” that are left on the corn. If you want the kernels to open and “flower” similar to “popcorn” then you need to pick off those little germ heads using a small, sharp paring knife. This step is optional and does not affect the flavor of the pozole. It just looks nicer.
Preparing the chiles:
Roast the chiles, a few at a time, on a comal or griddle for about a minute until they soften but be careful not to burn them. Remove the stems, cores and seeds, and submerge chilies in a bowl of hot water. Soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain, place in a blender and add 1/2 cup water, one half of an onion and one very large or two medium cloves of garlic. Blend until smooth. Strain through a medium mesh sieve and put the mixture aside. You can also boil the chilies instead of roasting if you wish and follow the same procedure after removing the stems, cores, and seeds.
Preparing the meat:
Put the stock meat and bones in a big kettle and cover them with water. Then add some salt (about a teaspoon or two but don't overdo it), add half an onion, and add a small head of garlic. Bring the kettle to a boil, and simmer it uncovered for about an hour. At that point, you can remove the kettle from the heat and skim off whatever fat is on the broth.
Finishing the Pozole:
Now add the nixtamal (hominy) and chile puree to the pot with the meat, and simmer the soup, covered (leaving the bones in), for 2 to 3 hours...the longer you cook it, the better. When it is finished cooking, ladle into bowls and don't forget to dig down to the bottom of the pot pushing past the bones and get a little bit of everything into the ladle. Pozole is kind of like a stew with broth. Serve garnished with chopped lettuce, sliced radish, chopped onions and a pinch of oregano. Squeeze in lime juice and add some hot sauce if you like and serve with corn tostadas and salsa. Buen Provecho! (Good eating!)
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