Pozole Rojo – Mexican Pork Stew.
Hello, my name is Claudia and I’m a pozole addict. Seriously. I love this dish.
As promised on Monday when our little impromptu Pozole Festival began with the awesome Pozole Verde, or green pozole made with turkey, Pozole Rojo is the red, pork filled variety.
The deep red color comes from rehydrating Ancho chiles. While they provide tons of flavor and gorgeous color, they are not hot in the least. So, fear not. We’re not gong to burn your face off with this one. Dig in.
Here’s what you need:
Pork Shoulder Roast, Ancho Chiles, Onions, Garlic, Hominy, Diced Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Oregano, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Cabbage, Radishes, Cilantro, and Limes for garnish. Avocado also recommended if you can find a nice ripe one.
I found these ancho chiles right in my regular grocery store’s Latin/Mexican section. If you can’t find them there, I highly encourage you to go find a real Latin Supermarket. Give yourself some time there and you will be amazed at all the good stuff you can get usually much cheaper than at the regular grocery. Any time I’m making a bunch of Mexican food, I head to the Latin Market. Also, you know I love those devotional candles….
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
I have a 5 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast. These are sometimes call Boston Butt roasts. Get one with the bone still in. It will be less expensive and the bone will help flavor the broth of the soup.
If there is a big thick layer of fat on one side of the roast, trim it away.
Use the natural contours of the meat to cut it apart into 8-10 big chunks. Keep the bone with a hunk of meat attached to it.
Season the meat with salt & freshly ground black pepper.
While we’re in the chopping mood, chop up 2 large onions
and 5 cloves of garlic.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven safe pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and big pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon). Sauté the onions on medium until soft and golden – about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté it for 1 minute but don’t let it brown.
Unlike most other recipes, we do not brown the meat for this pozole. Add the pork to the onions and stir it around to coat on all sides.
Cook the meat until it is no longer pink on the outside – it is a lovely unappetizing shade of gray – but do not let it brown.
Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water to the pot.
Add 1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes and their juices.
Give it all a stir and season it with 1 Tablespoon oregano (Mexican Oregano if you can find it), and salt & pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each for me).
Bring the pot to a simmer then put a lid on it and transfer the pot to the 300 degree oven.
Cook the pork in the onion broth until very tender, about 2 hours.
A bit before the pork has finished cooking, grab 3-4 of the ancho chiles. They are quite shriveled but should feel leathery rather than tough or dry.
Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and place them in a medium bowl.
Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil and pour it over the seeded ancho chiles.
Let them hang out to steep and rehydrate.
Once the pork has cooked for 2 hours, give it a nice poke and see if it is super, almost fall-off-the-bone tender. Remove the pork pieces from the broth with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl to cool for shredding.
Skim across the top of the pot with a large spoon to remove some of the accumulated grease. Like many soups and stews, this tastes even better the second day. One advantage of making it ahead is that when it is placed in the refrigerator overnight, the fat congeals on the top and can easily be scraped off. Since we don’t have that time, just glide across the top with the spoon and get as much of the fat off as you can. You don’t have to get it all obviously, but this really helps the soup not to be overly oily.
Drain and rinse 3 (15 oz.) cans of hominy and add it to the soup.
By now your chiles should be soft and flexible. Pour the chiles and all of the liquid into a blender and give it a quick whirl.
Pour the blended chile paste into the soup pot.
By now the pork has cooled enough to shred. Be sure to remove all bones and any pieces of gristle so all you have is tender, flavorful pork.
And believe me, this is SO tender and tasty. Try not to eat it all before it goes back into the soup pot.
If you’re me, you’ll also get to deal with the cat who insists he eats pork. He doesn’t.
Give everything a stir to combine and bring the pot back up to a simmer on the stove. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the hominy is puffed up and very tender.
Taste the pozole and adjust the salt & pepper to your liking.
Note: the hominy does absorb a lot of the cooking liquid so you might need to add a bit more water if your soup gets too thick. If you have leftovers, you’ll definitely need a bit of water when reheating.
Just like the Pozole Verde, Pozole Rojo is also served with a selection of crunchy toppings. Traditional toppings include shredded cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, pepitas or pumpkin seeds (toast them for more flavor if you have time) and lime wedges. I’d also add a nice creamy, ripe avocado if you have one.
Put the garnishes into little bowls and let everyone serve themselves.
Help yourself to a nice glass of red wine while you’re at it.
I’ve thought about making pozole for years. Not sure what took me so long but now I’m hooked.
Just please don’t ask me to choose between Pozole Rojo and Pozole Verde….
Here’s the recipe – Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe