Pozole is one of Mexico’s most famous meals in a bowl. It’s perfect for entertaining since it conveniently tastes even better when made ahead and reheated. It has many variations, and whether they’re white, red, or green, or made with chicken or pork or both, you can be certain that whoever had a hand in the dish will tell you that her version is the very best.
All pozoles begin with a white version to which a cooked sauce—red or green—may be added. To me, white pozole speaks of cold, rainy days in the company of family and friends, while red pozole means music, parties, and friends gone wild. Red pozole is a Mexican party in a bowl.
As with most Mexican dishes, you can customize your bowl of pozole with garnishes, as pozole tends to be served with a large number of them. Add lettuce, onion, and radishes as you like and serve the refried beans on the side with chips. Please do squeeze a generous amount of lime juice into your pozole, as a shot of citrus takes it where it should be.–Pati Jinich
LC A Little Nahuatl For You Note
A little etymology for you. The word pozole (pronounced po-so-LAY if in Mexico, po-SOL if in Central America) comes from Nahuatl and means “foam,” explains author Pati Jinich. That’s because the hominy in the pozole expands while it cooks and opens in such a way that it appears to bloom—and, yes, in so doing it forms some foam on the surface of the cooking liquid. “That’s how you know when it’s ready,” explains Jinich. Who knew?! We coulda swore it means “make a big batch of this on the weekend and reheat during the week after soccer practice.” (Not really.)
Red Pozole Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 10 M
- 2 H, 30 M
- Serves 12
- For the white pozole
- 1 pound dried hominy (also called maiz mote pelado or giant white corn) or three 29-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed
- 1 head garlic, papery outer layers removed (if using dried hominy)
- Kosher or coarse sea salt
- Two 3-pound chickens, cut into serving pieces
- 1 white onion, halved
- 5 cilantro sprigs
- For the chile purée
- 2 dried ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded
- 3 dried guajillo chiles, rinsed, stemmed, and seeded
- 1/4 cup chopped white onion
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- Pinch ground cumin
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 to 6 limes, halved
- 10 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed, dried, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- Dried ground chile, such as piquin, or a Mexican mix such as Tajin
- Dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- Tortilla chips or tostadas
- Refried beans (homemade or store-bought)
- Make the white pozole
- 1. If using dried hominy, place it in a large pot, add enough water to cover the hominy by at least 4 inches, and then toss in the head of garlic. (Don’t add salt before or during cooking or the hominy will toughen.) Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover partially, and simmer over medium-low heat until the hominy has “bloomed,” or opened, 4 to 4 1/2 hours, skimming the foam from the surface and adding more water if needed. The hominy will be chewy. Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons salt.
If using precooked hominy, dump the drained and rinsed hominy into a large pot and add 2 cups cold water.
- 2. Place the chicken in a large pot and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Add the onion, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover partially, and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken, straining and reserving the cooking liquid. Let the chicken cool.
- 3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-size pieces.
- 4. Dump the shredded chicken and its cooking liquid into the pot with the hominy and place over medium heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. The pozole should be soupy. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Remove the pot of pozole from the heat and set it aside while you make the chile purée. (You can let the pozole cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.)
- Make the chile purée
- 5. Place the ancho and guajillo chiles in a medium saucepan, add just enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until softened and rehydrated, about 10 minutes.
- 6. Place the chiles and 3/4 cup of their cooking liquid in a blender or food processor along with the onion, garlic, cumin, cloves, and salt and purée until smooth. Pass the purée through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
- 7. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chile purée and bring to a boil, then cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- To assemble
- 8. Reheat the white pozole over medium-high heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Stir in the chile purée and cook for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt.
- 9. Serve the pozole in soup bowls and pass the limes, radishes, lettuce, onion, ground chile, dried oregano, tortilla chips or tostadas, and refried beans in bowls at the table so guests can customize their pozole.
Pork Pozole Variation
- Pozole can also be made with pork, and many cooks use a combination of pork and chicken. Follow the recipe above, substituting 3 pounds chicken parts and 3 pounds pork shoulder (butt) for the 2 whole chickens and cook as directed in step 2. Just keep in mind that the pork takes twice as long to cook as the chicken. Reserve the broth to add to the pozole.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Mar 19, 2014
Oh, this red pozole recipe was so very delicious. Although not difficult to prepare by any means, it does take time to cook each component before the final assembly, so it's best left for a weekend dinner. You can find junctures where components can be made in advance and stored, as when the meat is shredded and when the hominy is boiled. The chile pureé can also certainly be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. I halved the recipe and encountered no issues. I used canned hominy, which was fine, although you do need to be careful about the accuracy of your final simmering time—you don't want to overcook the corn. The pozole reheated beautifully the next day for a quick office lunch. I'd never had the red version before, and I think it's my new favorite.
Mar 19, 2014
First off, there seemed to be a lot of ingredients and steps to making this dish, but all in all, the pozole was just chicken, chiles, and hominy. This very simple combination ended up tasting complex and delicious. It had just a hint of heat, and while the hominy and chicken were soft, the addition of the crunchy accompaniments made for a tasty dish. I used canned hominy, but wonder how cooking the dried hominy with a head of garlic changed the flavor of the hominy. Also, there was a lot of broth left after poaching the chicken, and not having made pozole before, I had to guess how much liquid I should put in. I wish that had been clearer. I finally got to use the dried chiles I've been hoarding, so there was no problem getting both the ancho and guajillo. But no size was mentioned, and that might make a difference in taste. I would definitely make this again and combine the chicken with the pork.
Mar 19, 2014
Pozole is a standard in our home, where I make it at least once every 2 or 3 months. But I'd always made the white version. Time to try out something different. In the end, the two pozoles are identical except for the chile sauce in the red version. The chile added a somewhat earthen flavor to the dish. I didn't use dried hominy but opted for canned instead. I've used dried hominy before but I didn't think the taste was that much different. As accompaniments, I used most of the things mentioned in the recipe, but I added diced avocado and minced cilantro on top of the refried beans. I will make this pozole rojo again.
Mar 19, 2014
In this red pozole recipe, you have the potential for a fantastic meal, hearty from the hominy, chicken and chiles, with bright, fresh tastes and textures from the lettuce, radish, and lime. I'd just like to go over a few details which might save you some aggravation.
First, the corn. If you want to use canned hominy, fine. I used dried, and it really does add a richer flavor. First off, you have the cooking liquid from the hominy to use as part of your broth for the final stew. The name the author gives for the appropriate dried hominy to buy, maíz mote pelado, is correct. "Pelado" is the operative word, which means that the skins have been removed. This is corn that has been treated with slaked lime (cal), had the skins rubbed off, then dried again. Mexican markets will also sell dried giant corn kernels, under the name of maíz pozolero or maíz cacahuazintle. These are the variety of corn used for pozole, but they have not yet been treated with cal, so if you buy this, you have to also buy some cal and treat the corn yourself.
The recipe is a bit vague on quantities, especially liquids. I cooked the hominy in a 5-quart pot with 10 cups water. This was less than 4 inches above the hominy, as the recipe specified, but it was plenty. After the hominy was cooked, which took about 3 hours, rather than 4, it left me with 1 quart cooking liquid. The instruction not to add salt is an old wives' tale, just like the old saw about not adding salt to beans. I added the 2 teaspoons salt as called for from the get-go. I added another teaspoon later in cooking, so 1 tablespoon turned out to be the right amount.
For the chicken, I used a single 5 1/2-pound chicken, cut up, in a 4 1/2-quart pot with enough water to just barely cover it. Once again, not as much water as the recipe called for. After the chicken was cooked, cooled, and shredded, I still had almost 1 quart of extremely rich (gelatinous) stock, which was more than enough for this recipe.
When combining the chicken, chile paste, and hominy, instead of adding all the cooking liquid from the hominy, I drained the hominy, and added 2 cups hominy cooking liquid and 2 cups chicken stock. This was sufficient for a fairly thick, robust stew, but if you want it soupier, there's enough of both the chicken stock and hominy liquid left to add more.
For the chile paste, I processed mine in a Vitamix, which made it very smooth, so I omitted the step of passing through a sieve. If you use a regular blender, you may want to take the trouble. You are looking for a perfectly smooth sauce with no visible traces of chile skin or seed.
For the garnishes, I used Tajin for the chile powder, which is a seasoning that combines dried chiles, lime, and salt. It's neat stuff to have around for putting on grilled corn. If you don't use this, you'll need more lime and some extra salt. The fresh vegetables should be placed generously on top, and offer a nice cool, crunchy contrast to the hot soup.
Red Pozole Recipe © 2013 Pati Jinich. Photo © 2013 Penny De Los Santos. All rights reserved.