Friday, February 26, 2016

Posole to Die for!

Posole is a "national" tradition in Mexico and parts of the Southwest, eaten on special occasions such as Christmas. However, this delicious dish has deep, deep Aztec roots. Unfortunately, the facts are quite disturbing, and frankly grotesque! Before the Spanish invaded, and outlawed cannibalism, posole was enjoyed after human sacrifice. Yep! All the remaining bits were relished with lovely creamy bits of hominy, the dried corn kernels of the sacred cacahuazintle variety nixtamalized with alkali. In addition, after human flesh was outlawed for consumption, pork became the meat of choice because according to a Spanish priest, it "tasted very similar." Bacon will never be the same. (I truly hope my vegetarian kid doesn't read this!)

Anyway, back to 2016, phew! I've had this wonderful recipe for years and finally gave it a try. Although not the classic posole of dried chiles, hominy, and pork, this version combines the traditional dried chiles with the ease of Ancho chile powder, readily available canned hominy, pork, and fresh chile poblano! The result is succulent and produces a more modern version of the classic. Traditional garnishes that I think are essential include shredded green cabbage, diced avocado, sliced radishes, a squeeze of lime, hot sauce, and tostadas on the side. If you've never tasted or made posole, I strongly urge you to give this recipe a try! Bissinger's Chocolate Cinnamon Chile Cake would make the perfect ending to a meal steeped in history.

Posole Rojo

Serves 6

For the Stew:
2-3 pounds pork butt, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups canned hominy, preferably white, if possible
1 cup red bell pepper, 1-inch dice
1/2 cup poblano pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 cup Roma tomatoes, large dice
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Garnishes:
1/4 head green cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced and crisped in ice water
3 avocados, diced
6 lime wedges
hot sauce
tostadas, on the side

Season the pork with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork in batches on all sides. Set aside. (This should take you about 30 minutes!) Add the onion and garlic to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Saute for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pot. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 2 hours or until very tender. Skim off any surface fat.

Add the hominy, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, ancho powder, Roma tomatoes, and lime juice. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the hominy starts to absorb the flavor of the sauce and thickens slightly. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in big bowls with garnishes. Yummy!

Recipe adapted from Canyon Cafe: Bringing the Southwest Experience Home.

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