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May 31, 2017

Red Posole with the Softest, Most Tender Pork

I get a weird number of spam emails and comments for this blog that I think are severely disproportionate to the amount of traffic my posts actually receive. You’re wasting your time, spambots! No one reads this blog! Though what is time to a robot or a line of code? What is energy to a non-sentient entity that requires no rest and no fuel?

What is anything to anyone anywhere anyhow?

Many questions, no answers, just posole.


This blog more than anything is my own repository of recipes that I can call up when I’m at the grocery store wondering what exactly it is I need again to make this or make that. It is marvelously handy for repeat recipes I have yet to memorize by heart, though I have made this red posole so many times I feel like it’s getting there.

My first experience with posole was with my then-boyfriend, whose mother is Mexican and father is Greek. The food at their place was, shall we say, very good. But the posole was strictly from his mother’s side, the perfect product of simmering pork and pureed chiles stirred into a lush, spiked-with-lime hearty stew. She only made this a few times a year, and I still remember once accidentally burning a batch I was trying to reheat too eagerly — I had put it on the stove on high and the hominy and pork ended up burning, infusing the broth with a horrible acrid smoke taste. I cried actual tears over it. That is not a hyperbole.

I got the chance to watch her make it once and from that at least understood the basics of what all went into making this soup. After trying and tweaking a few recipes and making a whole lot of wild guesses, this is the closest I’ve come to recreating her wonderful red posole.

And you guys, when you reheat this later, do it either in a microwave or low and slow on the stovetop. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. #GreatPosoleDisasterof2010 #NeverForget

For the soup:

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder, bone-in, cubed
  • 18-20 cups salted water, like you’d salt for pasta
  • 3-4 cans of hominy, 15 ounces each (you can also use dried hominy — just prepare it according to package instructions)
  • 2 bay leaves

For the chili puree:

  • 8 dried ancho and/or guajillo chili pods (I usually do 4 and 4)
  • Enough water to cover, 2-3 cups reserved
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Half a white onion

For the garnishes:

  • Thinly sliced radish
  • Strips of cabbage
  • Lime
  • Oregano

Cut the pork into hearty chunks. Reserve the bones for simmering. An optional step is to sear the meat in a pan with a bit of olive oil, just until it is browned on all sides but not yet cooked through. You can skip the searing altogether, but I find the searing helps add a bit of heft to the posole. Plus, I vaguely remember my boyfriend’s mom doing it too. Set this aside.

In a large pot, bring 18-20 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add in the pork meat and the bones, as well as the two bay leaves. When this has returned to a simmer, turn the heat to low to continue simmering for 2 hours.

In the last hour, prepare the chili puree.

Wipe out the pan you had used to sear the pork and put it back over medium heat. Put the dried chili pods on there and roast them until they soften, but don’t let them burn! When the chiles are soft and flexible, carefully remove the stems and slice them open to unfold them and remove the inner ribs and seeds. Put the chili pods into a small bowl and pour hot water over them so that they’re submerged. Let the chiles soak for 15 minutes.

Dump the soaked chiles and 2-3 cups of their soaking water into the blender. Add in the 5 cloves of garlic, the half of white onion, and a hefty pinch of salt. Blend it until it is smooth, adding more of the soaking water tablespoon by tablespoon if needed to loosen the mixture up. You want the final mixture to be just loose enough to pour.

Pour this into the simmering pork broth over a strainer to keep the bits from getting into the soup.

In the last half hour, add the hominy and give it a good stir and let it return to a simmer. Salt to taste. You may need to add a lot more salt than you think because this is a large pot of liquid! Simmer this all for at least 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool down some so that the flavors can meld. Serve hot with radish, cabbage, oregano, and lime.

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