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Recipe du Jour II: New Year's Posole, a Family Tradition (If a Bit Late)

This entry is part of a series, RdJ»

Red Posole

You remember that game where you say a word or phrase, and your friend says the first thing that pops into her head? Well, I bet if you try this with “hominy” here in Texas, the automatic response is likely “grits.” (Not a bad choice.) If you start with “New Year’s food” you’re likely to get “black-eyed peas” (if you don’t get “hangover medicine”).

If you got “pozole” for either one, then you’re a winner! Not to mention different from most. (Not to mention; but we already knew that, didn’t we?)

PozoleBefore we go on, a bit on the name of this interesting dish. Wikipedia has an article on “Pozole,” and that’s the way I always saw it spelled as a kid. Apparently, alternative spellings include “pozsole,” “pozolé,” and “pozolli.” You say po-TAY-to, and I say po-TAH-to. (And PJ says potatoe. Just to be different.)

So what is this dish, exactly? It’s hominy corn, meat (pork, beef, chicken, whatever you’ve got), roasted chiles, onions and garlic, spices and sauce. There are a lot of versions on that Interwebz thingie; I make a slow-cooker variation:

This version is a green-chile style stew. You can use red enchilada sauce and plenty of tomatoes and red chile powder, with roasted red peppers, and get a dish like the one pictured above. Indeed, that’s the way I originally learned to make pozole.

If you read that Wiki article, you’ll learn some disturbing information about pozole. The good side is, the dish represents abundance, and has deeper meaning in Aztec religious practices. You see, god made man from corn. So eating hominy is, well, kind of cannibalistic. That’s the bad part. In the past, the Aztecs would sacrifice some poor slob by cutting his heart out (while he watched), then they’d cook the rest of him into pozole.

Not these days, though! Spanish priests apparently put an end to this practice, replacing the meat with pork.

Whatever the underlying meanings, this dish is a classic New Year offering in many Mexican homes. Everybody’s got their own recipe, handed down over the generations. We here at the Underground think the main interest in this dish comes from the plethora (work THAT word into your next cocktail social!) of sides and garnishes that are traditionally served with pozole: Shredded cabbage, slivered radishes, cilantro, lime slices, avocado, cheese and sour cream are all considered great additions. More recently, things like black and green olives have been added to the list. And of course, you have to have plenty of hot tortillas available! We had flour, since there’s quite a bit of corn (hominy) in the stew.

If you’ve never tried pozole, I recommend it to you. If you don’t have this New Year’s tradition, I also think you should check it out, at least once. Especially if you don’t like black-eyed peas

Enjoy the (Belated Holiday Meal) Heat!

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