Posole has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered it. It's warm and comforting and bursting with flavor. If you are not familiar with posole (or pozole), it's a traditional Mexican soup or stew, with hominy and meat (usually pork) in a spiced broth. You dish out the fairly basic soup, and then you top your bowl with lots of fresh garnishes. There are both red and green versions, both are equally good, depending on whether you prefer the deep richness of dark red peppers, or the brighter tanginess of green peppers and tomatillos.
Traditional posole is, obviously, made completely from scratch. The real recipes have you soaking and pureeing dried chilis to flavor your broth. It gives amazing flavor. It's not particularly difficult to make, but it is time consuming and so usually reserved for special occasions and holidays. It's not generally something that could be an easy weeknight meal unless you've made it ahead.
With a busy family, I'm all about easy weeknight meals. I love taking a classic recipe and looking and the pieces of it to figure out how I can make it quicker and easier and taste just (or almost) as good. I have a great traditional from scratch recipe that I've made many times which is great to make on a weekend. I've included that one below - I don't know what the original source of this recipe was, I've had it scratched on a piece of paper for years. I highly recommend you make the scratch version at least once. But I also have developed my own cheater version. If you start with good flavorful ingredients, I really think this version is just as good, and it is so much quicker and easier to make.
Original Pozole Rojo
- 1 bone-in picnic roast (pork shoulder, also called pork butt), about 5 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium-large onions, chopped coarse
- 5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1.5 cups of water
- 2 ounces dried ancho chiles (about 3 large)
- 3 (15 ounce) cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
- 2 limes, quartered
- 1/2 head lettuce, sliced crosswise into thin strips
- 6 medium radishes, sliced thin
- 1 small onion, minced
- roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- chopped fresh oregano or dried mexican oregano
- 1/4 cup pureed ancho chiles
- flour or corn tortillas (or I like tortilla chips)
trim skin and excess fat from meat and cut into large pieces of various sizes. dry thoroughly and season generously with salt and pepper
heat oil over medium heat and cook onions and 1/4 tsp salt until onions are softened. stir in garlic
add the meat and stir often until no longer pink on the outside. add tomatoes, oregano, broth, and 1/2 tsp salt. increase heat and bring to a simmer. cover, place in oven and cook until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
meanwhile, bring water to boil. remove stems and seeds from chiles and soak with hot water until soft, about 20 mins. puree chiles and liquid until smooth. pour through a strainer and reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
remove meat and bones from pot. stir in hominy and pureed anchos. cover and return to oven and cook until hominy is hot, about 45 mins.
meanwhile, when meat is cool, shred it. stir shredded meat into the stew. taste to adjust seasonings. ladle into bowls and serve with garnishes.
Lisa's Cheater Posole Rojo:
- 1 can/package of enchilada sauce – mild or spicy, however you like it.
- 1 quart of chicken broth
- A large can of hominy, or a couple small cans
- An onion or two
- Cooked pork – I use pre-cooked pork carnitas from Trader Joes, Costco has some too. Chicken works great too - Costco and Trader Joe's both have packages of grilled chicken, or get a rotisserie chicken and pick the meat off. Or just use whatever cooked meat you might have leftover.
Throw it all in a pot and simmer for a little while - the longer the better, but it's still great even if you don't have a lot of time. You could saute the onions first in some oil, but you don't have to. It’s even better if you make it a day ahead and let it sit overnight.
Serve with any/all garnishes:
- Tortilla chips (break them up and mix them in)
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Guacamole or diced avocado
- Diced tomatoes
- Green onions
Really you can put anything you want on this. Keep it simple with just a little lime and cilantro, or load it up. It's yummy either way. Either version of this is great for a party - lay out a beautiful spread of the garnishes and people are very impressed.
Try a few different enchilada sauces and find one you like. I find it's best with a nice dark rich sauce. I've recently used the Frontera brand and I think it was the best yet - very deep rich flavor without being spicy.
You can also sort of combine the two versions. I've done it before where I started with a raw piece of pork and sautéed that with the onions as in the first recipe, but then added the broth and enchilada sauce to finish it off. I've also done both versions in the slow cooker. I have a great slow cooker with a metal insert, so you can brown your meat and onions on the stove first, and then put everything else in to slow cook.
You can even make a meatless version! Here are two versions I made once - the one on the left has pork and chicken broth, the one on the right was made for some vegetarian friends, with vegetable broth and a variety of beans. It tasted great too!