For the pozole:
1 pound dried hominy or 3 29-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1 head garlic, papery outer layers removed, but not entirely peeled (if using dried hominy)
2 whole chickens (about 3 pounds each), rinsed and cut into serving pieces, or a combination of 3 pounds chicken and 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt
1 white onion, peeled
5 fresh cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
For the chile puree:
2 ancho chiles (about 1 ounce) rinsed, stemmed and seeded
3 guajillo chiles (about 1 ounce) rinsed, stemmed and seeded
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
3 garlic cloves
Pinch of ground cumin
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5-6 limes, halved
10 radishes, rinsed, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
Dried ground chile, such as piquín, ancho, chipotle or a Mexican mix
Crispy tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade
Refried beans, store-bought or homemade (optional)
To make the pozole: If using dried hominy, place it in a large soup pot. Add water to the pot to cover the hominy by at least 3-inches. Add the head of garlic. Don’t add salt now or the hominy will toughen. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 4 to 5 hours, until hominy is tender and has begun to “bloom” or open up. Occasionally skim the foam from the top as the hominy cooks and make sure it doesn’t dry as it cooks, adding more hot water if need be. If using canned or pre-cooked hominy, start with step below.
Meanwhile, place the chicken (and pork, if using), in a large soup pot. Add water to cover the top layer of chicken by at least 2 inches. Add the onion, cilantro and the tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 35 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.
In the soup pot, combine the cooked hominy and its broth (discard the garlic head), or the canned hominy and 2 cups water, with the shredded chicken and its broth. Taste for salt, add more if need be, and simmer all together for 10 minutes more.
To make the chile puree: Place the chiles in a 3-quart saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chiles have softened and rehydrated. Place the chiles, along with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid, the onion, garlic, cumin, cloves and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If using a food processor, be sure to wrap a towel around the joint between the lid and the base to catch any escaping liquid. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing gently on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in the 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the chile puree, bring to a boil and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing it to thicken.
Add the red chile sauce to simmering pozole, let it cook for an additional 25 minutes, adjust the seasoning, and serve in soup bowls. Arrange the garnishes in smaller bowls on the table and let your guests customize their pozole. Or, if making ahead, let the pozole cool then cover and refrigerate, and reheat when you are ready to serve.
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Red pozole, or Pozole Rojo, Jalisco style, has been my favorite pozole of all time. It is bold and gorgeous in every possible way. I am so attached to it, we even served it at our wedding.
For decades now, I’ve refused to replace it with another… And then, I tried a unique green version, Pozole Verde, Guerrero style. It has not surpassed my Pozole Rojo, but it is attempting to tie with it at my table. And that is a lot to say.
Treasured all around Mexico, pozole has many variations, mainly green, red and white. Each distinct and beautiful, and coincidentally, represent the colors of the Mexican flag. Since September is the month of Mexican independence and The Day of El Grito is just around the corner, there is no excuse not to find an excuse to celebrate! And in my mental Mexican dictionary, pozole equals celebration.
Continue reading Pozole: Try It Green!