Mmmm…pozole. I love you so much. It’s a shame that much of the world does not know who you are. So let’s tell them. Pozole is a prehispanic soup made from boiling dried corn and some type of meat. Pozole comes from the word pozolli (Náhuatl – language of the Aztecs) which means foam. Why foam you ask? Well, when large pieces of corn called cacahuazintle or reventón are boiled, they open like a flower and form foam.
Over time, each region of Mexico has developed its own take on pozole. In the state of Guerrero, they often add green tomatoes or tomatillos, and in Colima, they add queso blanco (white cheese). In the state of Jalisco, where tequila was born, the pozole is usually made out of pork and is bright red in color from the addition of chiles. In my opinion, this is by far the most common variation of pozole, and the one I am most familiar with.
When I was in Mexico, I noticed that pozole was often associated with celebrations—birthdays, graduations, family get togethers. I can kind of understand why. Pozole requires a fair amount of time and effort to prepare, but it can definitely feed and satisfy a large crowd. One of my favorite parts of eating pozole is that you get to “doctor it up” to suit your taste buds. Toppings include and are not limited to shredded lettuce, oregano, chopped onion, radishes, fresh squeezed lime, flakes of chile pepper, tostadas, and avocado. One of my favorite places to eat pozole in Mexico City is at a place called Casa de Toño. They make their pozole stand out by offering a wide variety of salsas on the table that you can add to the soup. Looking to spice it up? Add some habanero salsa. Want to add another dimension of flavor? Try the deep red chipotle salsa.
There is no right or wrong way to eat pozole. That’s what I like about it! My favorite way to enjoy it is with a dash of oregano, a squeeze of lime juice, a small handful of lettuce, a few slices of radish, some scoops of buttery avocado, and a tostada on the side. Oh…and I almost forgot. I can’t resist a glass of cold and sweet horchata (rice milk drink with cinnamon) to sip on the side.
So, go ahead, give it a try. The recipe that I provided here uses canned hominy. I know that no “self-respecting” Mexican cook would do such a thing, but it is what was available to me at the time. And por favor, tell me what you think. Have you ever tried pozole? What’s your favorite way to eat it?
Click here for printable recipe.
Pork and hominy soup (Feeds 6-8 people)
5 lbs. pork shoulder (with bone in), cut into large pieces
About 6 quarts of water
½ white onion (medium-sized)
3 bay leaves
½ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
3-4 TBSP sea salt
2 29-oz. cans of hominy, drained and rinsed very well
6 guajillo chiles
3 ancho chiles
2 cloves of garlic
1 TBSP olive/canola oil
2 cups chicken broth
→Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks. (You will shred this later on). Some of the meat will remain on the bone. This is totally fine. It will become tender and fall off when cooking or you can shred it off later on. Place the pork and the pork on the bone in a large 10-quart stock pot. Cover with water so that it goes about 2-3 inches about the surface of the meat (about 6 quarts of water).
→Add the onion, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and 1 TBSP of sea salt. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. When the broth comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low so that it is simmering. I like to skim off the fat/foam that forms on the top. I just use a large spoon and scoop the foam into a bowl. You will want to simmer the broth for 1.5-2 hours or until the meat is completely cooked. I keep the pot partially covered with the lid.
→Once the meat has cooked, shut the broth off. Remove all of the pork and place it on a pan to cool. You can also remove the onion at this point in time. When the pork is cool enough to touch, begin shredding it into bite-sized pieces. (You can make the pieces as big or small as you like. I like to shred mine into about 1-2” long pieces). Place the shredded pork back in the broth.
→Turn the heat on low again, and add the drained and rinsed hominy to the broth. While the broth is cooking, you can prepare the chile mixture. This is what gives it that beautiful red color J.
→Remove the stems, seeds, and veins from the dried chiles. Lightly rinse them and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Remove the paper from the garlic cloves. Add them to the pan, as well. Over medium heat, bring the chiles to a boil. Let them boil for about 1-2 minutes. Shut the heat off and let them sit with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Remove the chiles and garlic from their cooking liquid using a pair of tongs and place them in a blender. Add about ¾-1 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
→In a medium skillet, heat olive/canola oil until shimmery. Add the chile mixture. Cook for about 3-5 minutes to bring out the flavor of the chiles. Then, pour this mixture through a fine mesh colander into the simmering broth. You will have to use a spoon to push the mixture through the colander. By doing this, you remove some of the larger pieces of the guajillo chile which tend not to break down even when blended. It is not absolutely necessary to strain the chiles, but the soup will be slightly smoother as a result.
→Add the chicken broth and 2 more TBSP of salt, and let the pozole simmer for about 15 more minutes. At this point in time, it is ready to serve. Serve with fresh squeezed lime juice, a sprinkling of oregano, chunks of avocado, a bed of iceberg lettuce, some radish slices, and tostadas. Enjoy!
4 limes, cut in half
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into thin strips
10-15 radishes, sliced thin
20 tostadas (fried corn tortilla rounds)
Chopped onion (optional)
- I like to use pork shoulder because it shreds so nicely. When I tried this recipe, I used the pork shoulder with the bone in. But, I imagine that you could also use boneless pork shoulder.
- If you would like to do this in steps, I refrigerated the broth after I shredded the meat. The next day I skimmed off some more fat (but not too much) and added the hominy.
- In my opinion, pozole tastes infinitely better the next day. So, you could make this the day before you plan to serve it and then refrigerate it. The flavors of the chiles really develop overnight.
- I love to serve pozole with a nice cold glass of horchata.