SOULFUL START: PORK POZOLE ( RED) WITH PAIRED LIBATIONS
Having pozole for dinner is a cultural tradition for Mexicans during the holiday season. Having pozole for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the holidays is a cultural tradition my family has during the holidays. I’m sure there are families that can relate with seeing Grandma bringing out the huge olla (pot) ready to make pozole that will feed over 30 people or even 5 people (given that it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a few days).
But now that the holidays are closely coming to an end, I’m slowly having pozole withdrawals. So I will make pozole one last time for the New Year; sharing my family’s pozole recipe and tweaking it with some tips I get from The Rancho Gordo Pozole Book by Steve Sando sold at The Wine Country ( $24.99 each), using the Rancho Gordo hominy also sold at TWC ( $7.99 each).
And of course, because we are a Wine, Craft Beer, and Spirits specialty store, we can NOT forget the drinks! Pozole is usually served with a nice Mexican lager or a craft lager that our beer buyer Dylan Myers has recommended.
AND because it's the New Year I will be pairing and celebrating my pozole with cocktails!
I have asked our spirits buyer Jeremy Dugan to recommend some fine Mezcal and Tequila so that we can all have some cocktails AND mocktails with our pozole to enjoy on that lovely Monday afternoon watching football and the Rose Bowl parade.
See below for the recipe and libation pairings…
Pork Pozole (Red) Recipe:
Brought to you by me ( Martha, TWC food buyer), mi familia, and Steve Sando.
There are three parts to this in this order
- Preparing the hominy.
- Prepping and adding all the assortments of pork meat
- Adding the chile sauce.
- Pork Pieces (see below)
- Dried Chiles (Chile California, Chile Pasilla Negro (Black), Chile Puya or Chile Arbol)
- Spices ( garlic salt, dried oregano, peppercorns, coriander)
- White Onion
- Garnishes (radishes, cilantro, dried oregano, purple onion, iceburg lettuce/or cabbage)
- Tostadas or Tutu's Tortilla Chips
As Rancho Gordo Hominy instructions follow:
“Check the corn for debris; rinse through and soak for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain and discard the water. In a large pot add corn and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer using a lid to help regulate the heat, and gently cook until the hominy is chewy but not chalky, this takes about 2 hours (read below for the hour mark).” Save a spoonful of hominy and half a cup of hominy juice for the chile sauce.
Note: 2 cups of prepared hominy will make 7 cups of cooked hominy.
While the hominy is cooking, at the one hour mark throw in a whole garlic that’s cut in half.
The Carne (meat):
You’ll need the following:
Pieces of pork 5 lbs (Pork Shoulder is highly recommended)
Pork Backbone ( ask the butcher to cut it into pieces) 3lbs
Pork foot (1, cut in fours)
Pork Ribs ( this is optional, my Dad like’s it this way)
Pork Head ( this is optional) ( Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando like’s it this way)
Pig Skin (Chicharron) ( fried) ( optional) ( used as a topping for garnish) ( I like it this way)
Put all parts of the pork in a meat pot with hot water, the water will cover the meat leaving 2 inches of room of water in the pot with half a white onion. Let simmer at medium-low heat ( take out onion eventually) Don’t over cook the pork.
Culture Tip: We like to make sure that all parts of the pig get used in respect to the animal that will be providing us with his beautiful dish. Don’t let any parts go to waste.
Chile California 8 pieces
Chile Paasilla Negro 3 pieces
*Chile Puya 4 pieces ***this chile has chipotle in it for those allergic to it***
*Alternative: Chile Ancho (2 pieces), it’s spicier, but for something more mild you can just add an extra 3 pieces of Chile Pasilla Negro (black) because that chile is sweeter and milder than Chile Ancho. Chile Pasilla Negro (black) has an earthy raisin-like finish to flavor.*
So you put all chiles in a large pot, soak them and clean them, while opening them up to take the seeds out. (This is a must, the seeds will make the chiles spicier if left in). You then rinse them and put the clean ones aside. Add half of the clean chiles into a blender with a whole garlic, Rancho Gordo’s Mexican Oregano sold at TWC ($3.99 each), spoonful of cooked hominy and half a cup of the cooked hominy juice. It will become a chile paste, if you don’t get a paste-like form you can add more hominy if needed.
Then add the other half of the chiles to the meat pot with 1 tablespoon of coriander. Coriander is not the same flavor as cilantro for those that don’t like cilantro. Coriander is a warming spice with a deep nutty flavor. And you let that simmer into what will become the broth.
For the meat and broth you can start to boil it in medium high heat adding a new white onion cut in half, garlic salt, bay leaves, and peppercorns. The water at this point should at least be covering the meat with 1 inch of water over the meat, after the meats’ water retention. If not add more water or a broth of your liking. You then bring the water into a boil and then right away you reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, to help regulate the temperature use a lid when needed. Skim and discard any impure sediments that rise to the top of the pot. Continue to let simmer until the meat is tender enough and falls off the bone.
Steve Sando likes to remove the pork pieces onto a plate. Once the temperature has cooled off you start separating the meat. Discard the bones and skin. My family likes to leave some bones in the broth but that’s up to you. For the skin you can also dry it up and use it to make your own chicharrones.
Steve Sando likes to strain the broth into a very large bowl and let it cool to room temperature. He likes to chill it in the fridge for several hours or overnight, until the fat rises to the top and congeals. He then removes the fat and reserves it for another use. But save 6 cups of the broth because you will need that for the main pot when it all comes together.
So in the large pot where you made the chile paste you add the reserved meat and hominy. You can break up the large pieces of meat but usually it happens on its own.
You then gently add the 6 cups of broth, enough to make soupy stew, stirring constantly. If it’s not soupy enough to your liking, slowly add more of the broth, or water, until you reach the desired consistency.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have warmed thoroughly for about 20 minutes to 35 minutes ( or longer if you use the pork/ pork broth from the fridge).
Then you ladle into a bowl and serve with your preferred garnishes.
Common Pozole Garnishes:
Finely Chopped Purple Onion
Thinly Sliced Iceberg lettuce or shredded cabbage
And of course with salsa like a Chile de Arbol Salsa. Which you can find a recipe for in Steve Sandos book The Rancho Gordo Pozole Book ($24.99 each)
Now with this meal my family likes to pair it with a nice Mexican lager. Our Beer Specialist Dylan Myers has paired this meal with the following:
And because it’s the New Year. Our Spirits Specialist Jeremy Dugan has recommended the following Tequilas and Mezcals with the following cocktails and a mocktail.
- Bloody Maria Cocktail with Backyards Mary Bloody Mary Mix ($14.99 each) with
JD’s write up: “A super-clean tequila , ideal for mixing. Subtle flavors won’t get in the way of other cocktail ingredients. Light notes of black pepper and soil with a touch of minerality. This is a great Tequila to mix with, it will allow all the flavors of the cocktail to shine.”
- Mezcal Mule Cocktail with Fever Tree Ginger Beer ( $7.99 each for a 4-pack) with
JD’s write up, “ Good amount of smokiness without being all smoke. Light and balanced. Earthen pit smokiness with white pepper. Green floralness leads to soft stone fruits before becoming green on finish again.”
- Mezcal Old Fashion with Angostura Bitters ( $13.99 each), Master of Mixes Simple Syrup ($4.99 each), Collins Candied Orange Twist ($8.99 each), Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries ($8.99 each) with
JD’s write up, “ This Mezcal is way less smoky than what most people have had. Making it great for understanding what Espadin tastes like. While also allowing it to highlight Agave flavor in a cocktail. Very agave forward, vegetal notes with hints of soil, soft salinity/minerality on the finish.
- Non-Alc Margarita with Tres Agaves Margarita Mix ($9.99 each) with
I hope you all have as much fun with the recipe and pairings as I have. Don’t forget that everyone’s use of spices and herbs is to each’s liking. That's where the key ingredient of love comes into play. So think to yourself how much of a spice or herb would my friends and family love to taste. That's why this dish is so soulful because it's a traditional Mexican dish shared with friends and family filled with so much prep-time, energy, and love.
As I end this blog post I’d like to wish you all a happy New Year and may 2024 be a year filled with joy, success, and memorable moments for you and your loved ones.