A Traditional Posole

A traditional Posole is a wonderful meal to enjoy during the holidays.  With so much already expected from the kitchen during this wonderful feast of thanks giving, an unexpected one-dish meal, such as a posole, may be the perfect break from tradition for the football games, or as an accompaniment to the oyster roast over the weekend.  Guests sometimes linger, neighborhood friends like to gather, and a warm bowl of this substitute for chili may be just the thing.

 

This posole began when I had the chance to spend the morning alone wandering around the beautiful Ferry Plaza Market on the waterfront in San Francisco.  It’s a foodie paradise, really, with beautiful displays of everything from cheese to bread to charcuterie to beautiful vegetables and much more!  As I made my way through the first store, I began with a basket full of goodies that I knew at the time would become the basis for this lovely authentic south of the border stew. I found traditional dried white hominy, beautiful dried red chilis, and the outcome of my shopping basket became clear.

I’m going to share with you my day in the kitchen with this Posole.  It was somewhat a labor of love with all the different items being prepared separately from each other and then combined for the finish simmer that blends all those wonderful flavors.  It’s not so difficult if you are organized and plan ahead to take the first steps the evening before.

Sorting, or “looking the beans”, as my grandmother called it, and doing the same to the dried hominy is the first step that must be taken to make sure there aren’t any small stones or broken pieces in them.  A soft cotton towel is the perfect surface to spread them out on, and pulling your fingers through them as you examine their integrity is such a pleasant task. Gathering up the edges of the towel to spill them into a bowl to soak is a sure way to avoid scattering them all over the floor.

Soak the beans and corn overnight, and find them swollen and ready to simmer in the morning. Cooking dried beans (and corn) is best done starting with cool, unsalted water.  I like to add a piece of kombu, or dried seaweed, to the water and allow it to soften and simmer and release it’s vital mineral richness into the broth and beans.  And in the case of preparing a mexican stew, I add a dried chili to the pot as well. Just discard the piece of kombu when the beans are tender.  The freshness of your beans and corn will become evident when cooking – recently dried beans will soften and cook much more quickly than a bag that has been sitting in the grocery distribution warehouse for months or even years.  You’ll know what I am referring to when you experience it.

The end results of these tender and beautiful pearls of richness is a flavor depth and aroma that fills your kitchen with innate goodness.

The foundation of your Posole is, of course, the hefty pork shoulder that breaks down and combines with the other ingredients to make this amazing traditional dish so satisfying.  Begin the pork roast the evening before as well, preparing and applying the dry rub seasonings and allowing the roast to sit in the refrigerator to take on the seasonings to the meat.

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After “aging” the meat in the dry–rub overnight, the low and slow cooking process begins in the morning while the beans and corn hominy are simmering.  Place the roast, fat cap side down in your hot cast iron skillet, and brown, or sear, the exterior to seal in the flavors and juices. Then turn the roast fat side up and place the lid on the dutch oven skillet and into the oven at 275 degrees for 2-3 hours, or until it is completely fork tender.

Posole in Cast Iron

The components are ready to assemble when the pork, beans and corn are cooked to tenderness. The final step in creating a posole is to assemble the delicious ingredients to simmer slowly as the flavors combine and create the richness and succulence of this dish.

Combine the sautéed vegetables, beans and hominy, the dried chilies and the pork, and then add chicken stock and the remaining seasonings.  Allow to simmer on the stovetop for 1 and 1/2 hours on low heat for the final phase of your posole.

Serve your posole topped with thinly sliced radish, fresh cilantro, sour cream and a wedge of lime. Nothing else needed except friends and family around to help you enjoy the season.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Traditional Posole
 
Ingredients
  • 3-5 lb Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt
  • 1 lb Dried Pinto Beans
  • 1 lb Dried White Hominy
  • 1 large Sheet Kombu
  • 5-6 medium Dried Red Chilis
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 4-5 clove Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Safflower Oil or Olive Oil
  • 1 usa dry quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano
Dry Rub
  • 1-2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Thyme
  • ½ tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoon White Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes
Garnish
  • 1 bunch Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 bunch Radish
Instructions
The night before
  1. Sort, or look, Pinto Beans, then soak in cool water overnight.
  2. Sort, or look, the hominy kernels, and then soak in cool water overnight.
  3. Assemble dry rub ingredients and rub onto the pork roast and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Preparation of ingredients
  1. Drain and rinse the pinto beans and the hominy. Place each in a separate cooking pan ( a cast iron pot works well) and simmer on low heat until tender. This can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Watch the liquid to make sure they do not dry out. When done, add salt to them while the cooking liquid is still warm and set aside.
  2. Heat the cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pork shoulder roast, fat side down first, and sear the outside of the pork, turning it to brown both sides. Leave in the skillet, fat side up, and place in the oven, with the lid on, at 275 degrees for 2½ hours, or until fork tender.
Assemble the stew
  1. Chop the onion and garlic cloves. Add 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Safflower Oil to the dutch oven you intend to assemble the stew in. Saute over low heat until onion is soft and translucent.
Assemble the stew
  1. Layer the ingredients into the stew pot. Add the cooked hominy and pinto beans to the pot. Add the dried chills, broken into rough pieces and the cubed pork shoulder. Add the oregano and the chicken stock.
  2. Place the cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-low heat and bring the stew up to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer on the stovetop for 1½ hours approximately, until all the flavors come together into a lovely pot of warm, earthy goodness.
To serve...
  1. To serve, ladle the stew into individual bowls and top with sour cream, fresh cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime.

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