The first time I ever tasted pozole was in New Mexico, where it is usually spelled posole. It was pozole blanco (white pozole) and it was difficult for me not to compare it to the delicious red spicy menudo I grew up eating. After that first bowl I wasn’t interested in ever learning how to make it until I met my husband, Bill. He has never been a fan of menudo and wanted me to come up with a version that didn’t include tripe.
Luckily for me, my cousin Brenda’s husband, Augi, who has family in both New Mexico and Chihuahua, Mexico, introduced me to pozole rojo and had a delicious recipe he was willing to share. Pozole rojo is from the northern region of Mexico and is made by adding pureed dried chiles to the soup to give it its distinct color.
I have tweaked his recipe over the years and now use our red chile sauce in it. This rich and tender pork-filled pozole has a thick, velvety consistency everyone loves. So for those of you out there who aren’t quite ready to try exotic menudo, here is a sabroso alternative.
You will not find any shortcuts in this pozole – this recipe is an adventure to make. Although not difficult to prepare by any means, it does take time to cook each component before the final assembly, so it’s best left for a weekend dinner. It is authentic and worth every step.
I’m actually giving away a little secret with this recipe – red chile sauce. This sauce is magic! Once you make this chile you can make extra and freeze it, and use it in so many other dishes such as menudo, enchiladas, mole, chilaquiles, asado, just to name a few.
This recipe makes quite a bit of pozole, actually a lot. If you do not have a small army to feed then I’d recommend you half the recipe. I made this recipe for New Year’s Eve and served half for the party and froze the other half. With Super Bowl fast approaching I have a feeling that pozole will be defrosted quite soon.
This beautiful and wonderfully satisfying one-pot meal can be garnished with cabbage, lettuce, and radishes, but I like all the garnishes for menudo – the perfect blend of chopped onions, crushed oregano (releasing its aromatic oils), a sprinkling of crushed red peppers, and a pungent squeeze of lime. You can serve it with tostadas or buttered and toasted bolillos. The choice is yours.
Red Pork and Hominy Stew (Pozole Rojo)
- 2½ to 3 pounds pork roast or loin
- 3 cups water
Red Chile Sauce:
- 8 ounces California or New Mexico red chile pods
- 6 cups water
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 (32-ounce) cartons organic chicken broth
- 2 cups reserved pork broth
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion, quartered
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 6 cups Red Chile Sauce or more to taste
- 4 (29-ounce) cans hominy, drained
- 7 cups water
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- Lime wedges
- Dried Mexican oregano
- Crushed red chile
- Place the pork and water in a slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the pork and coarsely shred the meat. Skim the fat from the broth; you’ll have about 2 cups of broth. Reserve.
Make red chile sauce:
- Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
- Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending. Discard water.
- Fill blender with 3 cups of water, half of the cooled chile pods, 3 tablespoons flour, 2 cloves garlic, and half of the salt. Blend until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine sieve to remove skins and seeds; discard skins and seeds. Repeat blending and straining process with remaining water, pods, flour, garlic, and salt. If necessary, season with more salt. This sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
- In a blender, combine half of the oregano, red wine vinegar, chicken broth, pork broth, garlic cloves, onion, flour, and sea salt, and liquefy. Place the broth mixture into a very large (at least 14-quart) pot or divide recipe into two 8-quart pots. Repeat blending process with remaining oregano, red wine vinegar, chicken broth, pork broth, garlic, onion, flour, and sea salt and add to pot.
- Add shredded pork, red chile sauce, drained hominy, and water to the pot. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Taste and add more red sauce, a bit at a time, to adjust the spice level to your liking. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. If necessary, season with salt. Spoon pozole into soup bowls. Let your guests add the garnishes to suit their own taste. Serve with fresh or toasted bolillos (rolls).