Pozole blanco for Halloween
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:20 p.m.
The Mexican soup or stew known as pozole has become a beloved tradition among my family and friends on Halloween. For years, I've made my signature pozole verde and sometimes made a pozole rojo, too, so that my guests would have a choice. This year, I'm changing it up a bit and making pozole blanco instead.
Pozole blanco is a kissing cousin of pozole verde, with bright, pure flavors. The main difference is that I don't add poblanos or lime juice but instead serve them on the side. It is also quite mild, so that both kids and adults who don't care for the heat of chiles can enjoy it. For those who love a spike of heat, there are minced serranos on the side.
Recently, I've gotten several requests from readers who have lost their printed copies of my pozole recipes and have noticed a few technical errors (sometimes fractions and such don't post accurately) on the ones I've posted at this column's companion blog, Eat This Now, which you can find at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. I'm revising all my pozole recipes and reposting them on the blog so they are up to date and ready to go for your Halloween feast.
You don't really need appetizers or side dishes with pozole, but if you want to start with something, make sure it is light — guacamole with chips, perhaps. For beverages, agua fresca and a good Mexican beer like Bohemia are perfect.
For dessert, I like dulce de leche (Mexican caramel, also known as cajeta) ice cream topped with fresh pomegranate arils. It's hauntingly delicious.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 pork shoulder or butt roast, 4 to 5 pounds
— Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds meaty pork bones
2 pork trotters
1 yellow onion, cut in wedges
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 cups homemade chicken stock, optional
3 28-ounce cans pozole blanco (white hominy), drained
3 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
— Cilantro Sauce (recipe follows)
— Poblano Rajas (recipe follows)
1 bunch radishes, very thinly sliced
5 juicy limes, quartered
1 small green cabbage, shredded
2 firm-ripe avocados, cut into medium dice
2 large heirloom tomatoes, such as Golden Cherokee, diced
1 small white onion, diced
3 to 4 minced serranos
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche, stirred to loosen
2 dozen small corn tortillas
Set the pork roast on a clean work surface and rub it all over with kosher salt, using about ¼ cup.
Set the pork in a clay cooker or other ovenproof pot with a lid. Add ¼ inch of water, put on the middle rack of a cold oven, set the heat to 250 degrees and cook for 5 to 6 hours, until the pork is fork tender. Remove from the oven and let rest in the pot. This can be done a day in advance. To prepare in advance, simply refrigerate the pork in its container and remove it from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before finishing the pozole. To use immediately, transfer the meat to a clean work surface and hack it into chunks.
Strain the cooking liquid into a clear container, skim off the fat, taste the juices and if they are not overly salty, set aside to add to the stock.
Make the stock while the pork cooks. Pour a little olive oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat and brown the meaty bones and trotters. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns, season lightly with salt and pour in the chicken stock and an equal amount of water. If not using chicken stock, add all water. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat and simmer gently for 2 to 2½ hours, until the meat falls off the bone and the stock is fully flavored. Use a large shallow spoon to skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the reserved cooking juices, if using.
Remove from the heat and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve or a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a clean pot. Use immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be done a day or two in advance. Discard the solids (or nibble them, as they are delicious).
To finish the pozole, put the hominy into a large soup pot and add the strained stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes, until the hominy has “blossomed” (which simply means the ear kernel opens like a four-petal flower). Taste, and if the flavors aren't quite integrated, cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Correct for salt and pepper as needed. If the pozole seems too thick, thin with water until you achieve the desired consistency. Be sure to heat through after adding more water.
Meanwhile, prepare the accompaniments and put each one in a separate serving bowl.
Heat the tortillas on a hot flat surface, such as a stove-top griddle or a cast-iron frying pan until they are fully pliable and hot but not at all crisp. Tuck between the folds of a tea towel to keep hot.
To serve, ladle the pozole into soup plates or pour into a large soup tureen. Serve immediately, with all of the accompaniments alongside so that guests can choose their toppings; some will prefer a single one, others will want all of them.
Makes 1 cup
6 garlic cloves
— Kosher salt
1 serrano, stemmed and minced
1 large bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
Put the garlic into a suribachi or grinding bowl, season with salt and use a sturdy wooden pestle to grind it into a paste. Add the serrano, grind and crush it and add the cilantro leaves. Continue to grind and crush until you have a uniform and somewhat coarse mixture. Stir in the lime juice, taste and correct for salt. Add the olive oil, cover and set aside until ready to use. The sauce is best the day it is made, though it can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days; be sure to bring it to room temperature before using.
Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled, quartered and cut into medium julienne
5 garlic cloves, minced
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
6 poblanos, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut in medium julienne
2 jalapeños, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin julienne
1 lime, halved
Put the olive oil into a medium saute pan set over medium low heat, add the onion and saute until it is limp and fragrant; stir it frequently so that it does not burn. Add the garlic and saute 1 more minute. Season with salt.
Add the julienne poblanos and jalapeños, toss and squeeze in the juice of the lime. Taste and correct for salt and pepper as needed. Set aside until ready to use.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts “Mouthful” each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com
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