4 more weeks until El Salvador – I am so ready for vacation. I haven’t had real vacation in over 2 years and the “rainy season” has started again in the Pacific Northwest. I think it has been raining now for 14 days straight – at least that’s how it feels. A hot spicy soup then is just the right food to feel warm and cozy. Actually I am just eating the left overs from a couple days ago while taking a little break working from home today. Its such a treat for me not having to shower, dress up and drive to the office. Instead I go straight up the stairs to my Home office in PJ’s, attack the never ending flood of emails in my Inbox and enjoy a zesty hot Pozole with a crusty German roll.
Mike always told me about Pozole and how good it is but a thin soup just made out of a chili paste, corn kernels and pork didn’t sound too enticing. Well I was wrong, the soup is super tasty, very hearty and in the end all about the garnishes. The soup is rather brothy but then you load it up with shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, chopped avocados, cilantro, onions, and wedges of lime.
The chili paste is essential for this soup. Don’t skip the step and substitute with Enchilada sauce like some recipes suggest. Make sure you liquefy the paste by first mixing it with the soaking water and then pouring it through a strainer. The soup won’t taste all that great right at the beginning, there is something to be said about letting all the flavors come together by cooking it for a couple of hours. I added some of my own greenhouse chili peppers that I had dried and yikes did that get spicy, so we added some rice into the soup to cut the spiciness and though its not traditional to have rice in Pozole its an alternative you could also try out, it was very tasty!
Pozole Rojo (serves 8 – 12) – adapted from Simply Recipes
- 3 ounces guajillo, ancho, or a combination of both, chili pods
- 2 large cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
- 2 lbs pork shoulder (preferably with bone), cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 cloves garlic, 4 cloves roughly chopped, and 4 whole cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp of dry oregano (Mexican oregano if available)
- 8 cups of beef broth
Garnishes (can be prepped while the Pozole is cooking):
- Half a small cabbage, thinly sliced
- One bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 2 avocados, chopped
- 4 limes, quartered
- A bunch of red radishes, sliced thin
- A bag of Tortilla chips, if you can get strips that works even better
- Remove and discard the stems and “shake out” as many seeds as possible. Heat a cast iron pan on medium high and lightly roast the chili pods for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften. Do not let them burn. While the chilies are heating, bring a medium pot with 3 cups of water to a boil. Once the chilies have softened, submerge them in the pot with the 3 cups of hot water, cover the pot and remove from heat. Let the chilies soak in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) in a large cast iron pot on medium high heat. Pat the pork pieces dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them generously with salt. Brown the meat on all sides. Right at the end of browning the meat, add 4 cloves of roughly chopped garlic to the pan with the meat, let cook with the meat for about a minute; add 8 cups of beef broth to the meat as well as the rinsed hominy, oregano, bay leaf, cumin and salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
- Prepare the red sauce by puréeing in a blender the chilies, 2 1/2 cups or so of their soaking liquid, a teaspoon of salt, and 4 cloves of garlic. Strain the red sauce through a sieve, discarding the tough bits of the sauce.
- Add the red chili sauce to the pot with the pork and hominy, cover and let simmer on low for 2 hours until the pork is completely tender. After an hour of cooking time taste for seasoning and add more seasonings like salt, pepper, onion powder, hot sauce, cumin or oregano. salt. The resulting soup should be rather brothy, as you will be adding a lot of garnishes. Add more water if necessary.
- When getting ready to serve the pozole, you can prep the garnishes (slice the cabbage, chop the cilantro, etc.) To serve, arrange the garnishes in bowls on the table and serve the pozole soup into bowls. Let your guests pick and choose which garnishes they would like on their pozole. Serve with tortilla chips/strips.