We returned to San Francisco from Oaxaca, Mexico late Monday night expecting that my brother would have posted at least once, but it seems this poor site has gone unloved for the whole of our vacation. Well, here is the remedy: my favorite pozole recipe.
There is a little pozole restaurant in Oaxaca that used to sit right off the main zocalo, and when I first started making pozole, it was their recipe I tried to emulate. I’m pleased to say that we tried them again (now in a different location), and found mine to be superior. It’s not quite traditional, not least because it contains no meat, but it’s perfectly spicy and tangy and robust. The recipe is very flexible, and really, there’s not much you can do wrong, but I prefer to keep the soup simple so that I can load up on the garnishes. Chop the cheddar cheese and avocados in squares and drop them right into the soup — they’re wonderful when gently warmed.
In Mexico, pozole is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, when everyone waits up until midnight and greets the next day with fireworks and celebration, much like New Years Even in the United States. There are three common types; white, green, and red, and sometimes the different kinds are said to come from different regions. My version is probably closest to a white, but the broth actually comes out a bit red.
Once you’re familiar with the recipe, it’s easy to get creative: replace the dried chipotles with roasted pasillas or jalapeños; add canned stewed tomatoes or chipotle in adobo; add some roasted tomatillos pureed with a little of the stock; stir in a red or coloradito mole; and/or add shredded chicken or pork, or cubed smoked tofu — the possibilities are endless, and delicious!
for the soup
1 1/2 cups dried hominy, soaked overnight
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbs olive oil
2-3 dried chipotle peppers
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
for the garnish
1 large avocado, quartered and chopped
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1 cup sharp cheddar, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup queso fresco, cut into cubes, or Oaxaca quesillo, shredded
chopped cilantro, optional
toasted tortillas or tortilla chips
In a large pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the chipotle peppers and spices and cook until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Add the soaked hominy and 1 cup of the water or stock. When the mixture has reached a boil, add 5 cups of the water or stock and cook, partially covered, until the corn begins to split and there is no hint of chalkiness, 2-3 hours. Add the remaining water or stock, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with the garnishes. Squeeze the lime liberally over everything. If there are leftovers, poach an egg or two in the reheating broth for a hearty breakfast.