Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ancient Soup


I love to find out the history behind recipes.  Sometimes they are rather interesting.  Take this Posole Rojo for instance. Posole is the Spanish word for hominy and rojo means red. But this soup is much more than just hominy in red broth.

Hominy is a brother to corn, only it has fatter kernels.  Ever eaten Corn Nuts?  That's made from hominy.  Another word for hominy is maize, which was a sacred plant to the Aztecs. Since the plant was sacred, Posole was a dish that was only made for special occasions.  What is even more interesting is that the Aztecs believed that their gods created humans from masa, which is ground cornmeal used for making tamale dough.  Doesn't that conjure up a rather funny picture in your head?  I just imagined tamale dough shaped like people.

Anywho, there are two varieties of Posole, rojo and verde, which means green.  People use pork or chicken in posole, sometimes beef.  I found some interesting recipes on line for the rojo version where the broth included red chiles.  So I went with that.  I also chose to use boneless country style pork ribs, which I'm so glad I did since the meat was perfectly tender in a short time.  This soup turned out fabulous and I can't wait to make it again and again this winter.  Enjoy!

POSOLE ROJO
2 lbs boneless country style pork ribs
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
20 dried chile de arbol
5 guajillo chiles
2 serranos, chopped
8 C chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 T cumin
Olive oil
Three 15-ounce cans hominy, drained
Salt & pepper, to taste
Diced avocado (for garnish)
Sliced cabbage (for garnish)
Chopped cilantro (for garnish)
Chopped tomato (for garnish)

Cut the stems off of the chile de arbol and the guajillo chiles and shake the seeds out.  Put the chile peppers in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and them simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are tender.  Put the chiles and about 1 1/2 C of the cooking water into a blender.  Blend until it's smooth and then strain it through a mesh strainer, reserving the liquid.

Drizzle some olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven.  Cook the onion and serranos over medium high heat until tender. Turn the heat up a bit and add in more olive oil, if necessary. Add in the pork and brown for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock, the pureed chiles, the garlic, the cumin, the bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Add in the hominy and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the pork is tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.  Garnish the soup with the avocado, cabbage, cilantro, and tomatoes.