I have this rather ridiculous photographic memory-like equivalent when it comes to food recall. I can not only remember particular dishes I’ve made even years ago, but I can remember details like which day of the week it was that I made them, and what was going on in my life at the time. It’s like I’m food-wired-in. Though I possess this strange ability in sharp contrast to my husband, because he can never remember anything I’ve made. Thought this was a cute case in point:
ME: “I’m working on a blog about the Posole.”
HUSBAND: “The what?” [Mind you, I only made a vat of it - we had at least 3 meals worth, just last week.]
ME: “The Posole. That spicy Mexican soup.”
HUSBAND: “OHHHH the spicy Mexican soup! That was great.”
So Posole (pronounced ‘po-so-lay’ or ‘po-zo-lay’) is a special occasion dish of Mexican origin that typically includes pork, hominy and chiles. Or in easier-recall terms, it’s a spicy Mexican soup. Our special occasion happened to be last Tuesday night. I mean, who says Tuesday’s aren’t special? There’s Glee. Sadly this season, that isn’t saying much. I digress. But when you’re not working full-time (ahem) you can afford to do things like make a vat of posole for two on a Tuesday.
Something not-so-shocking but important to keep in mind – this chili sauce is hot. Arbol chiles are no joke. This is one of those rare times you probably want to skip tasting (the chili sauce I mean) until after you’ve incorporated it with the other cooking liquids. Once mixed with those 10 cups of broth, water, meat and hominy – I promise it won’t send you running for a glass of milk. It’ll send you running for seconds. If you’re risk-averse like me, just add the 1/2 cup, wait, taste, and then if you want you can add more or just serve extra on the side. If you taste the chili sauce before it’s been diluted and you end up dumping it down the sink, swearing off posole and chiles in general for life, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- 3/4 cup dried de arbol
- 4-5 dried ancho chiles
- 6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
- kosher salt
- 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1.5″ cubes, patted dry
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tbs dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 15-oz cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
- Diced avocado, sliced radishes, sliced serrano chiles, diced red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro (optional – for garnish)
1. Break off the stems of the ancho and arbol chiles and shake out as many seeds as possible. Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water; weigh down with a plate or pot to keep the chiles submerged. Soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Transfer chiles and 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid to a blender. Add the smashed garlic , 1/2 tsp salt and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula. You only need to press out 1/2 – 3/4 cup worth of liquid. Discard solids.
2. Season the pork with cumin and salt. Heat oil in a large dutch oven set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add pork and sear in a single layer, in batches if needed, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and sear second side. Remove to a plate. Continue until all pork is browned, removing browned pork to a plate. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
3. Stir in 2 cups water, chicken broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1 tsp salt, pork and any juices from the plate, and 1/2 – 3/4 cup chili sauce depending on your taste for heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Partially cover, maintain a very low simmer and cook until pork is fork-tender, about 3 hours. Alternatively, braise pork covered in a 300-degree oven, checking every 45 minutes to ensure a gentle simmer is maintained (and not a boil, reducing oven temperature if necessary), 3 hours.
4. Stir in hominy and continue to simmer on stovetop for 1 more hour, uncovered. Pork should be falling-apart tender at this point. Remove bay leaf. Transfer pork to a cutting board and shred when cool enough to handle, set aside. Skim off fat from surface of broth using a spoon. Return shredded pork to posole. Add some water if posole is too thick. Taste and adjust for salt.
Serve with assorted garnishes and/or warm tortillas as desired.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine