For the pozole:
1 pound dried hominy or 3 29-ounce cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1 head garlic, papery outer layers removed, but not entirely peeled (if using dried hominy)
2 whole chickens (about 3 pounds each), rinsed and cut into serving pieces, or a combination of 3 pounds chicken and 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt
1 white onion, peeled
5 fresh cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
For the chile puree:
2 ancho chiles (about 1 ounce) rinsed, stemmed and seeded
3 guajillo chiles (about 1 ounce) rinsed, stemmed and seeded
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
3 garlic cloves
Pinch of ground cumin
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5-6 limes, halved
10 radishes, rinsed, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
Dried ground chile, such as piquín, ancho, chipotle or a Mexican mix
Crispy tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade
Refried beans, store-bought or homemade (optional)
To make the pozole: If using dried hominy, place it in a large soup pot. Add water to the pot to cover the hominy by at least 3-inches. Add the head of garlic. Don’t add salt now or the hominy will toughen. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 4 to 5 hours, until hominy is tender and has begun to “bloom” or open up. Occasionally skim the foam from the top as the hominy cooks and make sure it doesn’t dry as it cooks, adding more hot water if need be. If using canned or pre-cooked hominy, start with step below.
Meanwhile, place the chicken (and pork, if using), in a large soup pot. Add water to cover the top layer of chicken by at least 2 inches. Add the onion, cilantro and the tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 35 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.
In the soup pot, combine the cooked hominy and its broth (discard the garlic head), or the canned hominy and 2 cups water, with the shredded chicken and its broth. Taste for salt, add more if need be, and simmer all together for 10 minutes more.
To make the chile puree: Place the chiles in a 3-quart saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chiles have softened and rehydrated. Place the chiles, along with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid, the onion, garlic, cumin, cloves and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If using a food processor, be sure to wrap a towel around the joint between the lid and the base to catch any escaping liquid. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing gently on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in the 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the chile puree, bring to a boil and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing it to thicken.
Add the red chile sauce to simmering pozole, let it cook for an additional 25 minutes, adjust the seasoning, and serve in soup bowls. Arrange the garnishes in smaller bowls on the table and let your guests customize their pozole. Or, if making ahead, let the pozole cool then cover and refrigerate, and reheat when you are ready to serve.
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You can do fabulous things with pumpkins aside from spooky faces and pumpkin pie… Just ask any Mexican. We have a way with pumpkins.
Native to Mexico, pumpkins have been devoured there for centuries, in their entirety. The seeds are addicting as snacks, used as a hefty base for salsas, soups and sauces and more recently sprinkled on top of many dishes. The pumpkin meat is used for soups and stews, and along with the entire rind cooked in a piloncillo syrup, becoming a traditional favorite known as Tacha.
Yet there is something else you can make with those fall pumpkins: Mole!
An easy to make, silky textured and exquisite tasting mole sauce, that can bathe anything you can think of. From chicken to meat, fish, seafood and veggies; it all goes beautifully swaddled in it. I like it mostly with chicken or turkey, which is how I am most used to eating thick and rich Mole sauces….
So that you can try it too, here it goes.
Continue reading Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole
It is partly because of a soup like this, that I want to write a cookbook.
A soup that makes me feel all warm inside when I spoon it into my mouth.
A soup that has the earthiness and simplicity that grounds me.
A soup that, aside from having a comforting base, has layers of surprising life and color and crunch.
A soup that makes me want to eat nothing else for an entire week.
A soup that speaks of centennial traditions and is passed down through generations recipes.
A soup that is a pleasure to think about, to write about, to talk about, to prepare and to savor.
It is mostly because I want to share a soup like this with you, dear friends, that I am jumping to write this cookbook.
So with great news to share: I will be working with the delightful Rux Martin, editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to make this cookbook come to life.
In this book, I will write about -and tell you how to make- all of those foods that make me want to scream out of joy, along with the stories that revolve around them.
Continue reading On a Soup and a Book