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Pozole

“Memory is satisfied desire.”
― Carlos Fuentes

Pozole means “foamy” in the traditional pre-Columbian language, Nahuatl. It is a soup or stew from Mexico, which once had ritual significance. Pozole was mentioned in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s, “General History of the Things of New Spain” written around 1500. He was a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer who participated in the Catholic conversion of colonial New Spain.

I’ve seen versions of pozole recipes in a few places. The common denominator in all of them is hominy, the delicious big, mild white corn kernels that serve as the bulk and base of the soup. Over at the blog Cooking in Sens, they made a wonderful pork belly version of it. I’ve seen it made vegetarian as well.

Since maize was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on these special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human. After the prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with maize. After the Conquest, when cannibalism was banned, pork became the staple meat as it “tasted very similar,” according to a Spanish priest.

I am really hoping this is just lore, but I’m not so sure. Setting aside taboo, my craving was for the chilies, lots and lots of spice and the texture and taste of the hominy. I combined with the heat of the fresh chili, the smoke of the powdered chili, with the distinctive flavor of the cilantro and added it to the delicious chicken broth (I made my own, but you can certainly use store bought) to satisfy my palate. The only punishment and sacrifice coming out of my pozole was the searing heat and the desire for more.

Pozole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoons green chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned diced green chilis (optional)
  • salt
  • 1 whole fresh jalapenos, chopped (optional)
  • Serrano chili (garnish) (optional)
  • 1 handful cilantro

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Directions:

Chop the onion, peel and chop the 2 garlic cloves, chop the green chilies and jalapenos if you are using them and rinse and drain the hominy. Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes. Place the chicken in large saucepan or dutch oven slightly oiled. Cook until browned on the outside. Add chopped onion, the cloves peeled garlic, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Add the chicken broth. Add the remaining spices, stir for a minute. Stir in the canned hominy, and a small amount of optional green chilies and jalapenos. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that rises, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. When hominy and chicken are tender it is ready to serve.

Garnish with lemon or lime, radishes cilantro, cotija cheese and/or tortilla chips

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