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Monday, November 20, 2006

I Heart Posole

Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
Posole is good, real good — It will cure what ails you. The chiles will kick a cold right out of your head and the whole mess might even get you past the wintertime blues, at least while you are eating it. I made some of this yummy Mexican soup this weekend to help get us through my son's birthday party, which included a day at the amusement park and lots of sugary treats. Posole is a comforting food, a grounding food Kids whacked out on sugar Parents chaperoning a wild kid-party need it.

Now, I know you can make posole with canned hominy — I've tried this, but, it is not the same as making it from scratch. For better texture, appearance, mouth-feel, and taste you need to use the dried dent corn called maize blanco. When you buy maize blanco you also need to get some lime, not limes, but lime, called cal in Spanish — this stuff helps take the hull off of the corn.

Here are some detailed instructions for cooking the corn with the lime. The way I did it was to boil a big pot of water, add three rough tablespoons of cal, stir till dissolved, add about 2 lbs of maize blanco. I boiled it until I could see the hull starting to soften and slough off. Then I dumped the corn into my sink colander and rinsed with water while stirring. The yellowish hulls wash off pretty easily. At this point you can add the corn to your soup-in-progress, but, if you want the corn to cook faster and "popcorn," or flower, then you will need to remove the little brown pointy part of the kernel, it's called de-heading. You can either pick it off with a thumbnail or slice it off with a knife. It took me about an hour and a half to do two pounds of corn with my kids "helping me." Two pounds of corn was enough to make two large pots of soup.

The rest of the soup is pretty easy and there are many variations. I make it a little different each time, always with satisfying results. Here is the ingredient list from my last batch of posole.

The corn:
Dried hominy (maize blanco)
Slaked lime (cal, for preparation of the corn)

The soup:
Pork shoulder roast (in the past I've used pork butt and/or chicken)
Mixed dried chiles (New Mex, Negro, California or whatever you like)
Tomatoes (I used a small can of diced)
Chicken broth (I like Pacific organic with salt)
Bay leaves
Olive oil

The toppings:
Cabbage (thinly sliced)
Monterey Jack (grated)
Cilantro (picked of stems)
Radishes (thinly sliced)
Onions (diced)
Lime wedges
Jalapeño (sliced)
Tortilla chips (homemade is a must)

While prepping the corn get the meat cooking since it's a tough cut that needs a long, slow cooking (like two or three hours) to tenderize it. In the large soup pot start with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, adding a diced onion when the oil is hot. Cook awhile till the onions soften up, then add the pork roast cut up into large chucks, about 3 inches cubed. Brown the meat if you can, or not, either is good. Throw in some minced garlic, stir, and let it cook a couple minutes. Add a box of chicken broth and/or some water. A few bay leaves and some Mexican oregano can go in now.

Heat a cast iron skillet and add the chiles turning them to warm them. I forget why I do this — I think it softens them. I didn't want too spicy a soup this time so I pulled off the stem ends and tried to remove most of the seeds. I then put about six or seven chiles into the blender with some water to make a basic chile paste. I've made more elaborate mixtures before, but this worked fine.

Add the chile paste to the soup and a can of fresh tomatoes if you wish. I think the tomatoes are not authentic to posole, but I like the depth of flavor they add. When you are done with the corn add it to the soup. If it looks like you need some more liquid add water or broth. When the corn has cooked an hour or you can add some salt. Keep tasting it and adjusting the flavors to your liking. Sometimes I make mine spicy hot and sometimes mild. j

Top with your favorite toppings from the list above. You must make your own tortilla chips to make this a truly scrumptious soup. Just cut up corn tortillas and fry them up in a pan, add salt, and then hide till dinnertime because they will get eaten up otherwise.


P.S. I forgot to mention that the whole process takes a good 3 to 4 hours, but it's worth it. While you are at it you might as well make a lot and freeze some.

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Blogger stephanie s said...

that sounds devine. i have too many other foods on my brain right now, but that posole is absolutely something that i will do after thanksgiving...

Mon Nov 20, 05:53:00 PM PST  
Blogger kirsty said...

What an education! I know NOTHING about Mexican cooking. It sounds incredibly labour-intensive, but worth it!

Mon Nov 20, 07:09:00 PM PST  
Blogger Debby said...

Always love posole. I haven't made any yet this year. Your directions were perfect. Hey, you might like the cookbook California Rancho Cooking by Jaqueline Higuera McMahan
published by Sasquatch books( The stories in the book are great and so is the food (of course there is a posole recipe0.

Mon Nov 20, 07:14:00 PM PST  
Blogger Blaize said...

I am glad you found a use for that heart I brought you from Mexico.

Mon Nov 20, 07:23:00 PM PST  
Blogger Stacie said...

mmmm... posole! that is good stuff!!

Mon Nov 20, 09:15:00 PM PST  
Blogger littlesnoring said...

My partner is a Mexican-American who now lives in Hobart, Tasmania. On special occasions and when he feels home sick he makes posole - - I am a complete convert - I love it!! It really is a great comfort to the whole household... thanks for your recipe

Mon Nov 20, 10:01:00 PM PST  
Blogger futuregirl said...

Sounds delicious! Especially on a chilly day like today. Mmmmm. I always used red curry to scare away my colds, but this remedy sounds just as effective - and yummy.

Tue Nov 21, 05:39:00 AM PST  
Blogger AmberCake said...

This is sounding fantastic! I have always loved hominy and I'm so glad for the info on how to process it from scratch. I also just had a houseguest who brought me some roasted green chilies from Tucson, so this is the perfectly complimentary inspiration to learn a new special dish... oh boy!

Tue Nov 21, 09:30:00 AM PST  
Blogger purejuice said...

posole really is the best. that hit of really fine meat broth with lime and chile....could raise the dead. thanks for reminding me.

Thu Nov 23, 03:36:00 PM PST  
Anonymous carolyn said...


Thu Nov 30, 06:35:00 PM PST  

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