Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipe: Pozole

Pozole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay; mouse over for IPA) is a traditional Mexican dish eaten on the Mexican Independence Day (at least, that's the only time I ever had it). A lot of people mistakenly believe that the Mexican Independence Day is May 5th, "Cinco de Mayo". In fact, Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Independence Day and is only celebrated in two places: the United States of America and the Mexican state of Puebla.[1] In 1861 Napoleon III sent French armies to invade México. On May 5th, in the city of Puebla, the French Army was met by a poorly-equipped Mexican force half their size, but the Mexicans won decisively.[2] Thus, in the State of Puebla, they celebrate El Día de la Batalla de Puebla ("The Day of the Battle of Puebla"). The Mexican Independence Day [3], on the other hand, is celebrated all over México. It commemorates the day that México declared its independence from the Spanish colonial government on September 16, 1810—over fifty years earlier than the Battle of Puebla. So, since the true Mexican Independence Day is coming up, I'm sharing this recipe.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 14 oz. cans chicken broth
  • water
  • 3 lb. pork shoulder [4] cut into 1/2 inch cubes [5]
  • 3–4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 t. oregano powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 6 dried New Mexico peppers [6]
  • 3 (15.5 oz.) cans of hominy, drained [7]
  • limes, cut into quarters (for easy squeezing)
  • green cabbage or lettuce, finely shredded [8]
Optional toppings:
  • tortilla chips
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • cilantro, finely snipped
  • sour cream
  • green onions, chopped
DIRECTIONS


Combine chicken broth with 5 cans full of water in an 8 qt. pot.


Stir in the pork, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt. If the pork came with bones, you can add those as stock.


Bring to a boil then lower to medium-high heat for 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, cut open the peppers and remove the seeds and veins. For a spicier experience, put the seeds back in.


Boil the peppers for 15 minutes to soften, then puree.


Add the pepper puree and the hominy to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes.


I like to add the toppings in this order: lime (squeeze the juice into the pozole), tortilla chips (I crush them up a little), cabbage/lettuce, radishes, sour cream, cilantro, and chopped green onions.[9]



Notes:

[1] i.e. it's not celebrated anywhere else in México.

[2] Ostensibly Napoleon III sent his armies because the Mexican government put a moratorium on paying foreign debts for two years. However, some historians believe that Napoleon III wanted territory in Central America so he could support the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and break up the American Union. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinco de Mayo#Consequences to the United_States.

[3] They use the shoulder in México, but really any pork cut will do.

[4] It is more properly known as El Grito de Dolores ("The Cry of Dolores") or El Grito de la Independencia ("Cry of Independence"). Part of the celebration is to give a Mexican Grito, followed three times by "¡Viva Mexico!" ("Long Live Mexico"), on the 15th around 11 pm.

[5] If there's a lot of fat in the meat you may have to cut larger cubes.

[6] These are also called California peppers or Anaheim peppers. They can usually be found in the Latin aisle at the grocery store. Be sure to use the dried peppers—don't use fresh ones.

[7] This can be white hominy or yellow hominy—I like to use at least one of each.

[8] If you want to be authentic, use cabbage. But I prefer lettuce.

[9] When I ate this in México, the only toppings we added were lime juice and chopped cabbage. And if it ran out, we'd just throw in another handful. Even now that I use more toppings, when I run out (which is usually about half way through), I always replenish.

Image attributions:

The Flag of México is by Alex Covarrubias (based on the original design by Juan Gabino for the Mexican Government), available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag of Mexico.svg.

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