Pozole (also known as Pozolé, or Pozolli, in Spanish and commonly Posole in English) is a pre-Columbian stew or soup from Mexico that was eaten on special occasions. That rings true since our introduction came from people who made it as their traditional Christmas Eve dish. The ingredients for the stew consists of maize, usually hominy kernels, pork, chili peppers and a variety of seasonings. It is served with a selection of garnishes so each diner is able to customize their own bowl. We have made this recipe for many years but not as a holiday dinner just as a good hardy stew for a fall or winter supper.
I investigated the history of this dish and discovered that those bloody Aztecs had a different white meat in mind. Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was very special. According to Wikipedia; “The conjunction of maize and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mesoamericans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough). According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, on these “special occasions,” the meat used in the pozole was human. After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with maize. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion. After the Conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it ‘tasted very similar’, according to a Spanish priest.”
Of course that suggests the priest was having dinner with the Aztecs before the Conquest.
I hope you haven’t lost your appetite after that wonderful history of this dish because it really is very good. Just stick to pork as your main ingredient.
(Original recipe from my mother-in-law’s friend Claudia)
2 medium onions, chopped
1-1/2 # pork shoulder, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs oregano
1 Tbs chili powder
2 cans hominy, drained
1 can chopped green chilis
Combine onions, pork and garlic in a large skillet. Once the meat is browned, add the hominy, oregano, chili powder and enough water to cover. Simmer for about 2 hours, then add the can of chilis. Simmer for another 1/2 hour. Serve with warm flour tortillas.
The version pictured below is my take on the recipe above, using some slightly different ingredients.
Posole à la Curt
2-1/2# Country-style Pork Ribs, on the bone
3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs oil
3 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
3 Tbs oregano, Mexican preferred
1 Tbs paprika
1/2 Tbs cumin, ground
1 Tbs. Ancho chili, ground
2 Poblano chiles
2 tsp salt
sliced radishes chopped
white onions, rinsed under cold water
dry Mexican oregano
bottled hot sauce, like Frank’s
coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Cut the meat from the rib bones; reserve the bones. Trim any large areas of fat off the meat and cut the meat into 3/4″ chunks. Heat the oil in a large deeper pan (like a chef’s pan or braising pan) and brown the rib bones on all sides. Remove and reserve. Add the onions, garlic and meat chunks and cook over high heat until the meat is lightly browned. Add the herbs and spices (except the Poblano and salt) and stir to evenly distribute the seasonings. Return the bones to the pot, add 8 C. water, and bring to a steady simmer. Cover lightly and cook 2 hours, stirring periodically adding extra water if it seems like it’s getting too thick.
While the posole is cooking, roast the Poblanos under a broiler or over an open stove-top burner until they are blistered and blackened. Put the Poblanos into a paper bag and set aside to steam and cool (or alternately, put into a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap). Once cool enough to handle, rub the Poblano skin off with an paper towel. Open the peppers and clean out the seeds. Slice the pepper flesh into matchstick pieces about 1/4″ wide by 1″ long.
After the posole cooks for 2 hours, remove and discard the rib bones. Add the roasted Poblanos and salt, cook an additional 1/2 hour. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with warm flour tortillas.
Put the garnishes in small bowls on the table for your guests to add to their taste.