Pozole Verde

  • Time: Two and a half hours plus soaking time for corn
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

Pozole is a hearty soup from Mexico, made distinctive by the essential inclusion of whole nixtamalized corn kernels (hominy). The corn swells on cooking to create tasty, meaty kernels. Pozoles always include slow braised pork, but chicken is added in some recipes. This is a green pozole, but they are also red and made with tomatoes and red chillies.

Pozoles are a celebratory dish in Mexico and usually served with an abundance of accompaniments including totopos (tortilla chips), onions, radishes, and chillies. The idea of adding garnishes to thick soups is very Mexican, however, I prefer to serve some of the garnishes with a green salad in a separate bowl, rather like the American tradition of serving soup with salad. Don’t worry if you have soup left over, it keeps well and makes an excellent sauce for a chilaquiles breakfast the next day.

Being a Mexican dish, a few ingredients will need to be purchased online.

This delicious soup is becoming a firm WDC favourite.

What you need

125g dried pozole corn

650g rolled shoulder of pork

2 lt water

1 large onion

2 medium carrots

2 sticks of celery

3 whole garlic cloves

3 bay leaves

85g pumpkin seeds

302g tin of tomatillos drained

100g mixed greens herbs including sorrel, parsley, spinach, basil

1-2 green chillies – with or without seeds depending on heat

2 tsp dried epazote

Lime

Salad ingredients for garnish such as:

Lettuce

Raw sliced (mild) onion

Chopped green chillies

Sliced radish

Cucumber

Avocado

Tomato

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Olives

Lime

Serve with totopos (cut dried tortillas deep fried)

 

 



How Dad Cooked It

This recipe is adapted from one that appears in The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy. However, she herself adapted it from a book she found in Mexico. So, I have no compunctions about its origin or ownership. Besides the soup is too delicious to worry about such things. No doubt much has been lost in translation, notably, unless you grow wormwood in your garden, you will need to use dried epazote. More critically is the axoxoco, the main green leaf used in the soup. It’s a wild sour-grass, which gives a clue to its flavour. Diana Kennedy suggests using sorrel instead. However, even this is difficult to get hold of, unless it grows in very large clusters in your garden. I have therefore suggested other green leaves to add and which, when seasoned with lime, may make a fair representation of an authentic pozole verde. There is only one alternative to the dried pozole corn, and that is tins of ready-cooked hominy which can be added at the end of the process. (Either way we are spared making our own nixtamalized corn from scratch, which would be the case in Mexico and how Diana Kennedy instructs us in her recipe.)

1. Soak the corn in plenty of water overnight. Drain and put in a large casserole with the water. Peel and roughly chop the vegetables and add to the casserole with the bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Put the pork in a large pan and pour over a kettle-full of boiling water. Turn it over so it is thoroughly immersed in the water. This process just cleans and removes much of any scum that might form in the cooking liquid. When the corn has been cooking for 30 minutes, add the pork to the casserole of corn. Keep at a low simmer and cook for a further hour and a half. NB: The corn is cooked when tender. However, Diana Kennedy suggests continuing to cook until the corn opens like a flower. I don’t believe this affects the taste and whether the soup is improved by corn that has denatured into the shape of a flour is debatable… Perhaps more important is the pork, it needs to be very tender – not falling apart but easily separated with a fork and very tender. I found both the corn and pork are quite resilient to long cooking, so the final amount of time is perhaps not critical. When the corn and pork are cooked remove the vegetables and bay leaves.

3. Put the pumpkin seeds in a hot dry pan and toast until they start to pop. Cool and then grind in a spice grinder. This could be done in a mini chopper or pestle and mortar.

4. Put the tomatillos, green leaves and chilli into a blender with a good mug of the cooking liquid. Blitz well. Then sieve, extracting as much of the liquid as possible. Put into a pan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, add the pumpkin seeds and epazote and simmer gently for another 10 minutes and then add to the casserole of pork and corn. (You might consider sieving again in a fine sieve after cooking if you were not able to make a fine powder with the pumpkin seeds.)

5. Bring the soup up to a boil and simmer and then taste and season with salt. Simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes. Finally, taste again and season to taste using lime, salt and pepper.

6. Serve with totopos either with garnishes for putting into the soup – usually radish, onion, chilli, avocado, lime – or a side salad made up from salad and garnish ingredients.

 

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