Saturday, May 12, 2007
New Mexican Christmas Posole
In 1991 I got married twice to the same woman. We eloped in May. I took my boss as my best man, because I knew he could give me the day off and take the day off himself, plus he was a whole lot of fun. Great fun, but that is another story for another blog. So the big wedding was in October and we went back to visit her family in New Mexico. New Mexico really makes you appreciate California. Here is the recipe that Traci worked off of for her fantastic Christmas posole.
1 lb. (450 g) dried posole corn
It's not hominy, but you can use hominy -- dried, canned or frozen. But use the dried, prepared as you would dried beans; sorted and cleaned. Cover the posole with water and soak overnight. Bring the water and posole to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the kernels "pop." (It takes a couple of hours.) Add more water if necessary. It's a wonderful thing, really. (Part of the Posole experience is the cooking of the dish all day and reveling in the aromas and warmth; like the warmth you feel being loved by our Lord.)
3 lb. (1.4 kg) diced pork (lean cuts of shoulder or butt. Cut as you would for stew if you use a bone-in cut, leave the bone in the stew. I do have to mention the true traditional Posole has pork skin also as an ingredient. If you use a picnic or shoulder with the skin on, do not discard -- trim fat off and cut into pieces large enough to pick around and add with the meat when cooking.)
2 to 4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) lard (I know, I know -- saturated fat, but this is the traditional medium for braising the pork, onions, and garlic. Keeping the meat lean puts you in control of the fat -- and once a year? Go for it! But seriously, oil is fine (olive, veg, -- not 10-W30).
2 large sweet onions, large dice
4-5-6 cloves garlic, chopped (to taste -- I love garlic)
2 T (30 ml) dried Mexican oregano, whole preferably. Crush the spice by hand as you add it to the pot.
Red New Mexican chile pods
OK, here's the deal. Buy at least 12 oz (340 g) of Red New Mexican chile pods (there are about 16 pods per 6 oz/170 g bag). Trust me -- once you start using this product, anything else pales in comparison. Only New Mexico chiles taste like New Mexico chiles -- and you always need plenty on hand anyway! Most larger towns have a Mexican market around and most of those have New Mexican Chili pods. Be adventurous.
Here is the method of prep:
Take the dried red chile pods, remove stems. Rinse and dry chile pods. Remove seeds, if desired. Place chile pods on a cookie sheet in a 250' F (120' C) oven for approximately 10 minutes. Turn chile pods several times to avoid scorching (the chile pods will turn a deeper red). This is a good thing to be doing as the posole/hominy is cooking. The toasted chile pods will be used for preparing Chile Molido (Red Chile Powder), Chile Caribe (Chile reduction), and Chile Colorado (Basic Red Chile Sauce). You'll love and need them all! I've posted some recipes for y'all in the message boards (link at end of article).
Varied amounts and variety of chile will determine the degree of hotness. I like it mild for those folk who want the flavor but not the heat. The Chili Caribe is for them. Needless to say, all this prep makes for a very aromatic kitchen and house. OH yeah!
Back to the Posole! Hehe... Brown the LEAN meat in the oil. (Note: If you use fatty pork you may want to drain all but a couple tablespoons of oil.) Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with some of the hominy liquid. Add the hominy and liquid to all the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer all afternoon and evening. Add more water if necessary and continue to simmer until the pork is very tender and begins to fall apart. The Posole pot is always on the stove for the duration of the serving. Usually, folks go to the pot and dish themselves up a bowl or soup plate.
Now, the table. It is a big part of it. The table has an abundance of condiments to personalize your Posole. The list is as endless as you want it. Some traditional basics are:
-1 bunch cilantro
-Lime wedges and salsa(s)
-1 bunch scallions
*NOTE These days, because of concerns about Hepatitis A in Mexican produce, you may want to eliminate or substitute leeks, or be SURE of your source of green onions.
-A little very finely shredded cabbage
-Some green chiles (Anaheim, Pasillas, or even some Jalapenos)
*Green chile prep -- These are to be toasted either in the oven or grill, or over a flame or on a cast iron pan. Place into Ziplock bag or place in a bowl and cover with PVC and let rest until cooled to handle. This will make the peeling and de-stemming easier. Be very careful to wear gloves AND avoid skin contact. The stems, when removed, take out most of the seeds. This is also your base for any good Chile Verde recipe.
-These are chopped and set out in bowls along with the Chili Colorado and Chile Caribe.