What Is Posole & How to Make It At Home
This Posole recipe is a traditional Mexican dish from the Pacific coast region of Jalisco. A thick soup that's usually made with pork, hominy, garlic, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, and broth.
My neighbor Debbie found this recipe in a great-looking cookbook that she just lent me called The Feast of Santa Fe by Huntley Dent.
This is a good recipe but I have learned a simpler, just as the tasty recipe from my friend Paula who is from Mexico, is an incredible cook and never uses a recipe. She also always uses what's on hand; if we don't have one ingredient, she finds something to substitute, and her dishes always turn out great.
Check out Paula's Posole recipe below. It's another great variation.
And please be sure to check out my Chicken Posole recipe here.
What is Hominy?
If you remove bran (also known as the pericarp) and the germ from a kernel of corn, you are left with the endosperm, sometimes called hominy. When the hominy is ground, we have what is commonly called "hominy grits", a popular dish in the South.
UPDATE Notes: 2/28/99 - My wife and I made this last night for some friends and came up with some additional ideas. We didn't add the optional jalapenos because we mistakenly purchased a couple of milder Anaheim chili peppers.
One of our guests suggested roasting them on our gas stove, slicing them, and adding them to the Posole. Great idea. Added another layer of flavor.
The next night we had the Posole leftovers and it was tastier than the night before which leads me to suggest you make this dish the day before you are going to serve it. Not a conventional idea but how many times have you had leftovers that were better than the first night?
Serves 8 to 10 depending on who's doing the eating.
A Simplified Recipe for Posole
This is a simplified version of posole that is incredibly easy to prepare and has a mouthful of flavor with every spoonful AND gets better the next day. My friend Paula who is from Mexico and a wonder in the kitchen shows me how to prepare this dish and I'm amazed how simple she makes everything she does look.
She never measures anything out and uses what she can find in the refrigerator or in the pantry not depending on a recipe. Of course there are a few ingredients you must have like hominy and pork to make this dish, but then she gets creative and uses whatever ingredients she can find in the house.
- ½ onion stuck with 2 cloves
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 cup green chilies canned, chopped
- 1 whole jalapenos canned or fresh, chopped (optional)
- 1½ pounds pork shoulder
- 5 peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1 pince oregano
- 1 onion peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 31 ounces hominy 2 - 15.5 ounce cans
- 4 cups pork broth from cooking pork shoulder
- Prepare the ½ onion with the 2 cloves. Chop the green chilies and jalapenos if you are using them. Drain the hominy and rinse. Now you are ready to start cooking.
- Place the pork in a large saucepan and just cover with lightly salted water.
- Add the clove studded onion, 2 cloves of garlic, peppercorns, cumin seed, and oregano.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that rises, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove meat and broth, reserving both.
- Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the remaining spices, stir for a minute. Cut the reserved pork into 1 inch cubes and add to the pan.
- Stir in the canned hominy, pork broth (if there is not enough pork broth, add chicken stock), green chilies and jalapenos (optional).
- Cook at a simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes until the meat and hominy are tender. If necessary, cook for up to an additional 60 minutes until the chilies and onions are well blended into the broth.
- De-grease the posole, taste for salt, and serve in soup bowls.
CLASSIC MEXICAN POSOLE RECIPE
So above is a recipe for posole from years ago, but now I want to share Paula's posole recipe with you. Paula is a native Mexican and a 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 believe 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 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 greatly cuts the cooking time.
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.
She chose to use this chile 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 the bran and germ outer layers have been stripped away by soaking the kernels in a weak lye solution. 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 that it makes the posole smell like it has corn tortillas or corn taco shells. 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 would add radishes to their posole, but they 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 and hot. Good to know.
Best Posole Recipe
- 3½ pounds pork shoulder cut into 4 pieces
- 4 cloves garlic grated
- 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 cans
- 10 radishes for garnish
- 1 head iceburg lettuce for garnish, Romain 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.
- 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.