The secret to this richly layered pork and hominy soup is that it comes together in stages. We begin by simmering a pork shoulder in a bath of mint, cilantro, onion, and a whopping 20 garlic cloves. All that goodness goes a long way toward making the pork fork-tender and flavorsome. But it serves a dual purpose: we create a broth from the cooking water, aromatics, and a mild yet fortifying red chile paste. We make the paste from scratch, and it’s worth the trouble of toasting up all those chiles — the deep, smoky flavor they add is marvelous.
Between the pork and broth, there’s already so much going on with this soup, but in fact, we’re just getting started — bring on the garnishes.
This is one of those times when “garnish” doesn’t seem like a big enough word for all the goodies we pile on top of this soup — or the role they play. We topped our bowls with tortilla strips, radishes, lime, cilantro, and hot sauce. Some of us added crema or queso fresco too. Adding toppings is critical, and so is adding them at the end: you want the flavors bright, the textures crisp and crunchy. We like this combo because it adds acid, heat, crunch, a little creaminess, and something fresh and herby, but you can top off your bowl with your favorite garnishes.
Pozole is not a hard soup to make, but it does take a little bit of time. Make it on a lazy Saturday when you feel like laying around and reading a book — much of the cooking time is passive, so you’ll have time to kill. We like to let it sit for a day or two before we serve it so the flavors have time to meld. It’s a beautiful, guest-worthy soup, so put out the garnishes and the beer, and invite the family over.
Servings: 8 to 10
1 bunch Gelson’s organic mint
1 bunch Gelson’s organic cilantro (reserve some for garnish)
4 lb pork shoulder, quartered
10 cups water
26 garlic cloves (about 1 ½ heads), peeled, divided
1 medium white onion, quartered
1 tsp dried oregano
5 whole black peppercorns
2 ¾ tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
6 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, and opened flat
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and opened flat
2 ½ cups boiling water
1 small onion, chopped
1 whole clove
3 15-oz cans hominy, rinsed and drained
Optional garnishes: diced avocado, crema, queso fresco, sliced radishes, tortilla strips or chips, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves
Tie the mint and cilantro together with kitchen string.
In a large pot, bring the pork and 10 cups of water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the tied herbs, 20 garlic cloves, quartered onion, oregano, peppercorns, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Gently simmer, uncovered, until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours. Skim any froth occasionally.
Strain the broth through a sieve into a large, heatproof bowl. Discard the mint and cilantro. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to a blender with 1 ½ cups of the broth and purée until smooth. Add the purée and the remaining broth to the pot.
Coarsely shred the pork and add it to the broth.
In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles in batches. Using tongs, turn and press the chiles until they’re more pliable and just starting to brown, about 30 seconds per batch.
Transfer the chiles to a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Soak, covered, until softened, about 30 minutes.
In a clean blender, purée the chiles with 1 ½ cups of the chile soaking liquid, chopped onion, remaining 6 garlic cloves, whole clove, and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes.
Add the chile paste and hominy to the broth and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt.
Garnish as desired and serve hot. Note: pozole can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator in a covered container.
Recipe adapted from: Epicurious