I already have a recipe for posole from years ago but now I want to share with you Paula’s posole recipe. Paula is a native Mexican and wonderful cook. She has been teaching me some of her favorite Mexican dishes and cooking techniques and this is one of my favorites.
I have learned from watching Paula cook that simpler is often better. She adds essential ingredients but doesn’t follow the philosophy that more is better. Although her recipe and the one I posted earlier use many of the same ingredients, she uses fewer spices but serves with more garnishes. I’ve come to learn garnishes are very important to this dish.
Posole, also spelled pozole, is a Mexican soup (stew) from pre-Columbian times made with hominy, peppers and some sort of meat. Most of the time you see posole made with a tough cut of pork like the shoulder but Paula tells me she sometimes makes it with chicken or turkey which cuts down the cooking time by a lot.
We made this posole with pork shoulder but at the end I added some cut up boneless chicken thighs to make it a little thicker. I think of posole as a soup but it can easily be transformed into a stew by adding less water or adding more ingredients.
I’ve been learning a lot about peppers from Paula since they are important ingredients in Mexican cooking. I did not know that ancho chile peppers are dried poblano peppers or California chile peppers are dried Anaheim chiles. Both of these chiles are not very hot. Paula calls them sweet.
This is the chile she chose to use in her Posole for us, but she told me if she were making this at home, she would use Chilcostle or arbol chiles, both of which are very hot. She didn’t think we could handle it and she’s right!
Hominy, pronounced HAHM-un-nee, is hulled corn kernels where both the bran and germ outer layers have been stripped away by soaking the kernels in a solution of weak lye. It can be made from white corn kernels or the sweeter yellow kernels. You can also buy it as “samp” where the kernels are coarsely ground or the more commonly known “hominy grits” where the kernels are finely ground.
What’s cool about cooking with hominy is it makes the posole smell like it has corn tortilla or corn taco shells in it. When my wife Meg tasted some from the pot, she commented on this.
According to Paula, the garnishes are very important to this dish. Not only do they add additional flavors to the dish, but they allow individuals to add what they like and skip what they don’t. There was no way my kids were going to add radishes to their posole but the radishes contribute greatly to the overall flavor.
I like the flavor of the lemon so much, I would consider adding it right into the pot but Paula says some people do not like the lemon so let them choose for themselves. She also said the lemon can help if the dish is too spicy hot. Good to know.
Paula’s Posole Recipe
- 3½ lb pork shoulder cut into 4 pieces
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small onion quartered
- 4 dried Anaheim chiles you can substitute ancho chile peppers which are dried poblano peppers.
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 46½ ounces hominy 3 - 15½ ounce cans
- 10 radishes for garnish
- 1 head iceberg lettuce for garnish - Romaine or green leaf works fine too
- 1 medium onion for garnish
- 1 lemon for garnish
- Place the 4 pieces of pork shoulder into a 6 or 8-quart soup pot.
- Grate the garlic over the meat. (We used a microplane grater.)
- Season with salt and add the small quartered onion.
- Heat the pot over medium-high heat and brown the meat on all sides. Using some kitchen tongs, keep turning the meat and pushing it down to speed up the process. This should take about 3 - 4 minutes.Note: I say brown the meat, but the pork isn't going to brown like beef does so maybe I should say "sear" the meat. Just saying.
- Add 3 quarts of water to the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, remove the cover, lower heat and bring to a low boil. This is more than a simmer but not a full boil.
- Let this low boil for 3 hours. After just 10 minutes, notice the wonderful aromas filling up your kitchen.
Prepping the Peppers and Garnish
- While the meat is cooking, it's time to prep the peppers and garnish ingredients. Under running water, tear the dried peppers in half and rinse out the seeds. You may need a knife to help open them up.
- Put the peppers into a small saucepan, add some water and let them simmer for 20 minutes. After simmering, drain the peppers, puree in a blender or food processor and reserve.
- While the peppers are simmering, start prepping the garnishes by washing, trimming and slicing the radishes into thin slices. When finished, place the cut radishes into a container.
- Slice the lettuce into strips, wash if necessary and add to the container with radishes. Top with water, cover and store in the refrigerator. The radishes and lettuce will stay fresh for days this way.
- Peel and finely dice the medium onion and place in another container.
- Slice the lemon into six wedges, add to the onions, cover and store in the refrigerator until needed.
Finishing the Posole
- When the pork is done cooking, remove and place onto a cutting board. You're going to find some large pieces of fat because pork shoulder has a lot of it. Find these pieces and remove what you can find.
- Shred the remaining pork using your finger or a fork if too hot to handle. Add back to the pot.
- Drain the cans of hominy and add the hominy to the pot.
- Add the reserved pureed peppers into the pot and stir.
- Add the ¼ teaspoon of dried oregano, stir and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
- Skim off any fat that may be floating along the top but if you are not serving until the following day, you'll be able to easily skim off a layer of solidified fat with a spoon after being refrigerated over night.I also think the posole tastes better a day after you make it. I even wrote a post about this called Why Do Some Meals Taste Better The Next Day.
- To serve, ladle some of this delicious posole into a soup bowl and garnish with lettuce, radishes, onion and a squeeze of lemon depending on your personal tastes. My kids didn't want any garnishes but I convinced them the lemon really added to the flavor.
- We served the posole over basmati rice to make more of a meal out of it but you can serve it over any of your favorite rice, pasta or by itself.