I love looking outside the morning after a fresh snow, there is something magical about the stillness in the air and the quiet. I fondly remember bundling up as kid to walk our wooded trails behind the house on days like this – the tree’s heavy with ice crystals and snow cover. The sound of snow crunching under my own boots seemed offensive, so I would stand still and just reflect upon the beauty that was around me.
To round out a chilly winter day, you need a pot of something warm and hearty that’s been simmering on the stove for hours to thaw your bones. I promised myself I would add more dishes like this to my repertoire this winter and stumbled upon a recipe for red posole on Homesick Texan earlier in January. It sounded like chili except made with hominy and pork and served on special occasions – like New Years. In my family, we make French-Canadian meat pies on New Years day, without fail. It’s always fun to learn what other people do for their family traditions.
So let’s get down to it: Posole or rather Pozole Rojo is a very traditional Mexican stew made with pork, hominy, & New Mexico Chili’s (however the meat and type of chili changes depending on region). The history of this dish is pretty gnarly – think bubbling pots of sacrificial human flesh morsels. Enough of that visual, I am a huge fan of pork so let’s not ruin it. We’ll just consider ourselves lucky that things have evolved…
This dish requires both pork shoulder and ham hock, two things I had yet to cook with but was excited to try. Hominy on the other hand, well – it’s processed (read: dirty word in my house) corn. It involves soaking dried maize kernels in a food grade lye or powdered lime solution to remove the hull and kill the germ making it safe for storage. Lye is caustic and an alkali, I am not an expert but that sounds dangerous. Wikipedia notes that there are advantages to this treatment however, “… this process also affords several significant nutritional advantages over untreated maize products. It converts some of the niacin (and possibly other B vitamins) into a form more absorbable by the body, improves the availability of the amino acids, and (at least in the lime-treated variant) supplements the calcium content, balancing maize’s comparative excess of phosphorus.” I’m still not sure how I feel about all of this –
Regardless of the above, this dish was incredibly good and went over well as an alternative to Chili on game night a few weekends ago with friends.
3 cans of white hominy – drained
Two packages of dried New Mexico Chili’s – stemmed & seeded
1.5 lbs pork shoulder cubed
1 smoked ham hock
1 fresh ham hock
8 minced garlic cloves or more if you’re a fiend like me
1 spanish onion diced
2 tablespoons of lard (see my previous post) or use bacon grease
9-10 cups of sodium free organic chicken stock and water blend
1 tbsp mexican oregano or regular if you can’t find it
pinch of ground cloves
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp organic ancho chili powder
juice of one lime + more to taste
Sea salt + fresh cracked pepper also to taste
cilantro, avocado, and more lime to serve
Grab your biggest heavy bottomed pot and let the lard melt over medium heat:
Now add the onions:
Let these soften for about 10 minutes, then add the cubed pork shoulder and let it brown on all sides:
Then add the gahhhhlic and cook for maybe one more minute. Man I love that smell when the garlic hits the pan…
Time to add your liquid mixture of stock/water, the spices, and ham hocks.
Bring this to a boil and then a simmer. Now the fun part – prep your chilis and make the puree. Heat up a heavy dry cast iron pan while you:
From here you want to put your cleaned chili’s into the hot pan, when you hear a pop take it off the heat and cover them in water to rehydrate. This will take about a half hour:
You can either use or swap out the chili soaking water for fresh – choose your level of heat. You want one cup either way and into the blender it all goes: level 4 did the trick if you have a Vitamix.
Dump this into your pot and stir – now you can go put your feet up for a couple of hours while it gets awesome.
The last step is to add your drained hominy, lime juice, and then you guessed it – let it simmer for another couple of hours.
Serve with more lime, slices of avocado, and a dusting of chopped cilantro – this will warm your soul, promise.
*Note: I did skim off fat (our preference)