Nothing warms the heart like a bowl of pozole.
Growing up, this thick, garnish-heavy pork stew would make weekly appearances on the menus of some of my favorite Mexican restaurants in San Diego, often being reserved for Domingo, or Sunday.
Generally speaking, if something’s only available on the weekends, you can bet it’s going to be good.
As is the case with most takes on pozole, my version of this classic from the heart of Mexico relies heavily on flavors drawn from a puree of dried chilies, specifically the guajillo, ancho and morita varieties. Depending on your personal tastes, you can use as much or as little of this chili paste as you’d like, but the recommended amounts here should give a good balance of hot, yet fruity flavors, to stand up against the savory elements coming from the pork.
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 hours 30 minutes
4 dried guajillo chilis
3 dried ancho chilis
3 dried chipotle morita chilis
6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
boned-out pork shoulder from small pig, roughly 2lbs total
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons oil
1 white onion, chopped
10 cups, chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
45 ounces, white hominy, drained and rinsed
Avocado, cilantro, shredded cabbage, limes and radishes for garnish
As mentioned above, the success of this recipe rests almost entirely with the chilis.
Remove the stems and seeds from all of the guajillo, ancho and morita chilis and tear into quarter sized pieces. Put chili pieces into a bowl and cover with enough boiling water to completely submerge. It helps to rest a pot lid or plate on top to keep the chilis submerged during the soaking period. Let sit until the chilis are soft, roughly 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove chili pieces and test their texture. At this point, they should be soft to the touch and able to be torn by hand. If they’re somewhere in the neighborhood of dried fruit leather, you’re in business. Place the chili pieces in a blender or food processor and add in a cup and half of the soaking liquid. Blend for 2 or 3 minutes, or until completely mixed. Run the puree through a fine mesh strainer, using a wooden spoon to press remaining juices out of solids. Discard solids.
Now, turn your attention to the pork.
Completely coat the shoulder with cumin and a teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Pour oil into a large pot and begin to heat. Once oil is shimmering, reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook until soft. Next, add in the chopped garlic and do the same. Once garlic is soft, push the ingredients in the pot aside, increase heat to high and add in the pork shoulder. Turn the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula until all sides are brown. Roughly 5 to 10 minutes total.
Add in chicken broth, bay leaf, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and one cup of the chili puree. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 4 hours. Turn the pork throughout.
Add in the hominy and stir to thoroughly mix the stew. After another hour, the pork should be beginning to pull apart. Using a pair of forks, begin pulling the meat into bite sized pieces. Once the meat is completely pulled, let simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste the stew and add additional chili sauce as necessary.
Now, for the fun part.
Serve pozole in bowls and begin the garnishing process. Add limes, avocado, shredded cabbage and thinly sliced raddishes to taste. The garnishes for pozole are as important as the stew itself, so don’t limit yourself here.
If done right, you should have spicy, savory bowl of heaven guaranteed to help ease the pain of your dwindling weekend.