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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Red Pozole Recipe © 2013 Pati Jinich. Photo © 2013 Penny De Los Santos. All rights reserved.