Pozole, or pork and hominy soup, is a very traditional Mexican dish from the eighteenth century. It may also be known as posole.

The legend of its creation was that in Chilapa, Guerrero, an important prelate from Puebla was visiting. The cooks prepared incredibly large amounts of nixtamal many days in advance - too many, as there weren't even enough people to grind it down to make tortillas. Someone, desperate to use it, threw some into a pot with herbs and chicken, and made a stew which people found delicious.

Today, pozole can be found in a number of forms, and is eaten quite regularly. Originally it was only eaten on Christmas Eve, but it was so well liked that it soon became a dish to make for any special occasion - or none at all. In some areas, you'll find that pozole is eaten every Thursday, like clockwork, and often, in those areas, any shops will close early, and people will converge at a makeshift eating area, where huge pots of pozole are made for everyone.

There are three main varieties of pozole that are found. Pozole, also known as "white pozole", is colored mainly by the corn. Pozole Rojo, or "red pozole", adds a chile sauce, darkening the color. Pozole Verde, or "green pozole", adds a sauce using tomates verdes (tomatillos), pumpkin seeds, and some greens.

It is a hearty dish, using both chicken and pork - selecting tough cuts of meat for their flavor, and cooking them properly to tenderize the meat. It was originally made with a pig's head, and can sometimes still be found that way, but pork butt is more than adequate as a substitite. It is always served with a set of condiments for people to add themselves, to flavor it how they desire. This is a dish to eat to get a definite taste of Mexico.


Pork and Hominy Soup

1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs.
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
4 tsp salt
1 sprig cilantro (coriander)
2 lb lean pork, boneless
1 lb pork butt, boneless
2 lb dried hominy, cooked and drained

3 oz dried oregano
1 cup chopped onion
3 oz ground chile piquin
5 limes, halved

Cut up the chicken, and put into a pot or Dutch oven. Add the 1/2 onion, garlic, 1 tsp of the salt, and the sprig of cilantro. Add 10 cups of water, and bring to a boil. As soon as it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium tosimmer, and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes - until the chicken is nice and tender. Remove the chicken from the pot, and shred the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Set the chicken stock aside.

In another pot, add the pork and pork butt, and salt, and cover with about 14 cups of water. Bring to a boil. When boiling, skim the surface, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for an hour.

Add the hominy to the pot, and cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the pork from the pot, shred the meat and return it, and add the chicken and chicken stock. Cover, and cook on medium for about 20 minutes, until the hominy is tender.

Serve, with the oregano, onion, chile piquin, and lime halves in small condiment bowls.

Both Pozole Verde and Pozole Rojo are made by adding a sauce to the pozole when you add the chicken back in with the pork. Here are the recipes for the two sauces to choose from:

Pozole Verde

Green Pozole

2 cups hulled raw pumpkin seeds
3 serrano chiles
1 lb tomates verdes (tomatillos)
2 leaves lettuce
3 small radish leaves
1/4 onion
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds, until they start to pop. Put them in a blender, and grind into a smooth paste. Set aside.

Boil water in a large saucepan, and add the chiles, cooking for five minutes. Then add the tomates verdes, and cook for 3 more minutes. Drain the chiles and tomates, and put into a blender with the lettuce, radish leaves, onion, and chicken stock. Puree.

Heat the oil in a skillet. When hot, add the pumpkin seed paste, and saute for about 3 minutes, making sure to constantly stir to prevent sticking or burning. Add the puree mixture, mix well, and bring to a boil, cooking for 2 minutes.

Add the salt, lower the heat, and cook for another 7 minutes, stirring.

Set aside, and add to the pozole at the right time.

Pozole Rojo

Red Pozole

10-12 guajillos chiles, with the seeds and membranes removed
1/2 cup water
1/4 onion
4 cloves garlic
7 tablespoons oil

Soak the chiles in hot water for about 20 minutes. Drain, and add to a blender along with the water, onion, and garlic. Puree.

Heat the oil in a skillet on high. Add the chile mix, and saute for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and cook for another 10.

Set aside, and add to the pozole at the right time.

Saige almost made me cry, because I had not thought about pozole in a long time. Anyway, to the practically perfect writeup above I will just add that, in Mexico, the corn used for this dish is called "cacahuazintle" or "cacahuacintle", a specific variety of white corn with floury kernels.
In Mexico City you can buy the corn pre-cooked at most supermarkets. There are restaurants that serve only pozole, called (of course) "pozoleria". They will usualy have the white, red and green variety.

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