Friday, September 14, 2007

Posole Revisited

Due to popular demand, it's time to post my posole recipe again. I've been slowly refining it over the last year or so, and judging from the reaction of all who enjoyed the last batch, it seems I've hit my posole stride.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am wild for all things chipotle. And the chipotle in adobo sauce is just the thing that gives this recipe its kick, its heat, and it's rich, rusty red color that reminds me of the Crayola crayon color Burnt Sienna. Remember that?

Well put your crayons away and grab your apron, cause it's time to make posole.

Cut about 1 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder or butt into 1 inch cubes and lightly brown in a splash of olive or canola oil in a cast iron pot that could hold ideally up to 5 quarts.

Cover the pork with water or chicken stock to make about 3 or 4 quarts, and add half an onion studded with 4 cloves, plus two bay leaves and four cloves of crushed garlic. Also add a generous tablespoon of crushed dried oregano, and the same amount of freshly toasted ground cumin seeds.

Take one chipotle in adobo sauce and pound it with a mortar and pestle with about one tablespoon of the sauce, till it's relatively smooth. Stir this into the soup. Bring it all to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least an hour and a half, till the pork is tender and surrenders when you entice it with a fork.

Now taste the broth. It'll be spicy, and it may need salt. It it's too spicy for your liking, add some water and continue to adjust the salt/water/spice ratio until it's to your liking.

It is helpful at this point to have James Brown cranked on your stereo, or perhaps some Rick James. Lydia Mendoza works nicely, as does Calexico or Lhasa.

Now, remove the onion chunks and bay leaves, and smash the softened garlic cloves into the side of the pan and stir into the soup.

Next it's time to add two 14-oz cans of hominy, and continue letting the flavors simmer and blend for another 45 minutes to an hour. At this point, it's all about tasting and adjusting. You may need more cumin or salt or oregano. You might like to add a skinny twist or two of fresh ground black pepper as you like. Or not. You should by now have a stock that is rich, lively and spicy, with plentiful morsels of tender pork and corn.

Now it's time to garnish -- a very integral part of your soup so don't even THINK about skipping this!

Top with little bits of the following:

*Thinly sliced radishes
*Finely diced cilantro
*Minced white onion that has been chopped and rinsed in water, then drained
*Crumbled cojija anejo cheese
*Very thinly sliced napa or green cabbage

All of the above will make this half-soup, half-stew both full of flavor and texture and nearly as colorful as a box of Crayola crayons, but much more pleasing to the tastebuds.

If you can serve this with homemade corn tortillas, all the better. But store bought tortillas work just as well. No tortillas required in fact, but do try to enjoy in the company of friends who friends who make your heart sing. In fact, try to enjoy many of your meals that way, because that will make your heart sing even more.

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