I don’t like Mexican food. There’s melted cheese all over everything. Burritos are so big, it takes me three days to eat, and besides, they’re not very good. Tacos break and stuff spills down the front of my shirt. I just avoided Mexican food. Yuk.
Then I bought Rick Bayless‘ book, Mexico: One Plate at a Time. I made a few dishes and they were good, but complicated, and often using ingredients that are hard to find.
Then Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm wrote about cooking and eating with his Mexican farmhands, and his wife, Julia Wiley published simple recipes in their newsletter. Those were good and simple.
Then I discovered Rancho Gordo, a seller of dried beans at the Farmers Market. I love beans. Their website has many recipes, some of which are Mexican, or at least Southwestern. Those that I’ve made I really liked.
So I modified my dislike. I don’t like American Chain Restaurant Mexican food.
So what about those titular words? Hominy Posole Pozole Dried Corn
I was confronted with these words on the Rancho Gordo website and became confused.
I know from hominy. I ate canned hominy as a kid. I liked it fine; white, solid puffs that were kind of rubbery and chewy and had a mild corn taste. I think my mother used it as a side dish, like canned corn or peas. It’s not something you love or hate and you rarely see it on a restaurant menu. When I moved out and married, hominy dropped out of my life, but not entirely. We’ve had a can of hominy in the pantry for a few years. I never felt inclined to open it.
Rancho Gordo, my go-to place for dried beans, had this intriguing package labeled CORN HOMINY POSOLE, White CORN. The kernels are white and flat and look like what my Grandpa called Field Corn. He grew Field Corn to feed the hogs, hard and flat and yellow, the kernels were relatively large, not for human consumption. For us, he grew Sweet Corn. But I digress.
I’m always up for new things; I bought a one-pound package and asked how to cook it. Joan, the RG lady, gave me a card “Making Posole/Hominy, Rancho Gordo Posole Rojo.”
Is pozole the stew or is it the corn, or what?
Here’s what I found out about the terms:
- Pozole — dried corn for making hominy. Buy it packaged.
- Posole — A variant (American) spelling for pozole.
- Hominy — Cooked pozole. You can buy it in a can, it’s quicker and easier and not as good, just like beans in a can.
- Pozole — The stew made with hominy, which has been made from pozole. Pozole Rojo, in this case.
About that time, Steve Sando‘s Rancho Gordo News had a recipe, of sorts, for Easy Chicken Pozole. Always eager to leap before I look, I started the corn to soak at nine o’clock Monday morning. The recipe card said, “soak from 6 to 10 hours, simmer for about four hours.” That would bring me to 7pm.
In his Easy Chicken Pozole, Steve started with already soaked corn, put that together in a pot with chicken thighs and the broth ingredients, cooked for two hours, turned off the pot and let it sit while he was at work, and warmed it to serve. “,all I can say is wow,” he reported.
I couldn’t do that, my corn had just started to soak. So I gerrymandered the recipes together and came up with a way to start the broth while the corn was still cooking, add the chicken in time to cook fall-off-the-bone tender, and add the cooked corn just as it finished cooking and still eat by 7:30, our normal time.
Since there were hours of soaking and slow cooking involved, overlapping the steps was not a problem, and I even had plenty of time to prepare several garnishes. By gosh it worked.
What it boils down to is this:
- Soak the corn.
- Cook the corn.
- Make a broth.
- Add meat to the broth.
- Add hominy to the broth.
Soak the corn.
Those who plan ahead will do this overnight before cooking. Soaking merely reduces the cooking time. For my leap first exercise, I soaked for six hours.
Cook the corn.
I cooked it in a clay pot, planned for four hours, but it was tender in three.
Make a broth.
Your basic broth: onion, garlic, oregano, chicken broth, water. For red, add chiles or chili powder and tomato paste. For green, add green chiles and tomatillos. For white, don’t add any of those.
Add meat to the broth.
I used chicken thighs, pork is traditional. Cook long enough for the meat to become very tender. I allowed an hour for the chicken thighs.
Add hominy to the broth.
Cook long enough for the hominy to absorb the flavors of the broth.
Serve in a shallow bowl.
This is the fun part, each diner can add what he wants, a little now, a little then, or all at once. I made cubed avocado, diced tomato, diced cucumber, diced onion, cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, arugula leaves. Thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce is traditional, as well. I figured whatever garnishes were left over would make a nice salad for lunch the next day. (They did.)
An amalgamation of the Rancho Gordo recipes for Posole Rojo and Easy Chicken Pozole with my adaptations. Serves 4
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/6 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon oregano
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked posole (hominy)
4 chicken thighs
salt & pepper
Diced avocado, chopped cilantro, finely chopped onion, thinly sliced radishes, chopped cucumber, fresh curd cheese.
Soak posole from 6 to 10 hours. Strain. In a large pot, add the soaked posole, 2 quarts water and a roughly chopped onion. Bring to a hard boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer for about four hours. The posole will flower, like popcorn, when it’s finished. Strain.
With about an hour to go on the hominy, heat oil in another pot over medium heat. Skin and brown the chicken and set aside. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add tomato paste, chili powder, and oregano, stirring until all ingredients are warmed through and well mixed. Add broth, two cups water and chicken and cook slowly for about an hour until tender.
Drain cooked hominy and add, bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer for about half an hour.
I love Mexican food!
After the nice dinner, I Googled Posole. Not much going on there. The first five recipes listed used canned hominy. No matter. My basic recipe is good and can be varied until I get tired of it. By then, I’ll discover something else.