My husband was feeling under the weather this past weekend, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try a pozole recipe I had just seen in Sunset Magazine (yes I subscribe to Sunset, and yes people my age make fun of me). I have never attempted a pozole before, but I love Mexican cooking and it has been on my to do list.
When researching pozole recipes I found there were 3 main kinds: white, red, and green. The green jumped out at me because I love green salsa and green curries. I found two recipes that I really liked and decided to combine them to make my own. The first, the one from Sunset, included pumpkin seeds (pepitas). The other, from Rancho Gordo in Napa (a New World Specialty food store), is more traditional and includes cilantro. Both of these recipes are vegetarian however, and I knew I wanted to incorporate pork, which is a requirement in traditional Mexican Pozole.
While shopping for ingredients, I came across pork neck bones. Since traditional pozole includes cooking a whole pig head, I thought the neck bones were the next best thing (since pig head is not easy to come by in Reno). Since I have never used neck bones before I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, so I treated them like any other meat I would braise. I started by searing them in a hot pan, and then slow cooking them until the meat was falling off the bone. This seemed to work well and added great flavor to the soup broth. I did cheat a little bit with the hominy. I bought dried hominy and followed the directions by soaking them over night and then boiling them for 3 hours until they were soft. The one thing I didn’t take into account is that they have a skin (sort of like chickpeas), and even though it is edible, it is not super appetizing. Since I didn’t have time to peel all 400 (give or take) little kernels, I sent my drug induced (we are talking ibuprofen here people) husband to the store to buy canned hominy. Even with the canned hominy, the soup had great flavor. It almost tasted like a great green salsa turned into a soup but with a nice nuttiness from the pepitas. The pork acted like a thickener and made the pozole similar to a stew. I don’t know if the pozole cured my husband’s cold, but it definitely hit the spot and made the house smell awesome all weekend!Pozole Verde
Adapted from Sunset Magazine & Rancho Gordo
Serves – 8
1 1/2 cups Dried Posole (or 2 – 29 oz cans hominy)
2 1/2 lbs Pork Neck* (or shoulder if you can’t find neck)
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
4 cups Chicken Stock
3 large Yellow Onions
7 Garlic Cloves
3 large Poblano Chiles
2 Serrano Chiles
2 lbs Tomatillos (about 10) – husks removed & rinsed
1 cup Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas) – roasted
1 cup Cilantro – coarsely chopped
2 tsp Oregano – Mexican, dried
2 dried Ancho Chiles – seeded & stemmed
3 small Zucchini – medium dice
*Make this dish vegetarian by omitting the pork and using vegetable stock
*Garnish with Cilantro, Shredded Cabbage, Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas), Avocado, Lime
- If using dried pozole, soak over night with a generous amount of water. Drain. Place in a saucepan with a generous amount of fresh water. Add 1/2 chopped onion and 1 garlic clove. Let simmer partially covered for 2-3 hours. When the pozole is ready it will be soft & some will be split. Let cool in pot. If using canned hominy, drain and rinse well before using.
- Rinse pork and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot, and sear pork until golden brown. Remove from heat and drain off excess oil. Return pork to pot with one chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, & chicken stock. Add water if needed to make sure pork is completely submerged. Bring to simmer & cover. Let cook 3-4 hours. The pork will be very soft & falling off the bone. Let cool until warm and then remove the meat/bones with tongs, and strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean bowl. Use your fingers to remove the meat from the bones. You will be left with about 2 1/2 cups of meat. Discard the bones. When liquid has cooled, strain off the oil and fat from the top so you are left with a nice clear liquid.
- Roast the tomatillos, serrano chiles, 1 1/2 onions, & 4 garlic cloves. You can do this in the oven on the broil setting, or on the stove with a hot dry skillet. You want the vegetables to be nice and brown. Preserve any liquid. Roast the poblano chiles over an open flame so the skin blisters and becomes black. Place into a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap to let them steam. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard the seeds and stem. Seed and stem the serranos as well.
- When the vegetables are cool, place the roasted tomatillos, serrano chile, onions, garlic, poblanos, cilantro, oregano, and pumpkin seeds into a blender. Blend until smooth.
- In a hot, large, heavy bottomed pot toast the ancho chiles for about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pork/chicken stock to the pot and let reduce for about a minute. Add the pork to the pot and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the vegetable mixture from the blender, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken/pork stock. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes and then add the chopped zucchini and the hominy. Simmer for 15 minutes more until the zucchini is tender. The ancho chiles will be falling apart at this point. Season the soup to taste with salt. Garnish with shredded cabbage, cilantro, pepitas, avocado, and lime.