Pozole is a special and especially delicious traditional Mexican stew. Pozole is the word for hominy which is a type of maize that is typically what tortillas and grits are made out of and it is the star ingredient in this ancient dish and was considered sacred by the Aztecs. Nowadays, pozole can either be made with chicken, pork or turkey and is often either “green” or “red” depending on the types of chiles used. However, in the ancient times, since hominy was sacred and only eaten on special occasions, like when a prisoner was killed by having his heart ripped out,the meat found in ancient pozole was actually that of…humans. That’s right, human sacrifice. Hey, whatever feeds the community, right?! Yikes…
After the conquest of the Aztec civilization, cannibalism was banned and pork became the meat of choice as, according to a Spanish priest, it had a very similar flavor. *shudder*
To make my version of pozole, I braised a pork tenderloin with celery, carrots, onions, jalapeno, cilantro and lime until it was fall-apart tender. I used the strained braising liquid to form the base of the soup and blended in some juicy, sweet Plowbreak Farm tomatillos and jalapenos, poblano peppers, onions and garlic as well as some toasted and ground pumpkin seeds for some thickening power and deep nutty background flavors.
This soup can be served as is but I opted to garnish it with fresh sliced avocado, thinly sliced radishes, fresh cilantro and some warm, soft corn tortillas for dipping. Have fun with your garnishes! A little sour cream or crema or some crunchy, lightly fried tortilla strips would be delicious as well.
For the Pork and Stock:
- 1 2-3 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
- 2 Plowbreak Farm carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Plowbreak Farm jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 handful cilantro, leaves and stems
- 1 lime
- 1 12 oz beer, I used a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- 3 cups chicken stock
- salt, pepper, olive oil
For the Soup:
- 5-6 Plowbreak Farm tomatillos, diced
- 2 large poblano peppers, diced
- 2 Plowbreak Farm jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, ground in a food processor to a powder
- 2 15.5 ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper
- juice of a lime
- olive oil
For the Garnishes:
- radishes, thinly sliced
- fresh cilantro
- sliced avocado
- sesame seeds
- lime wedges
- corn tortillas
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Begin by liberally salting and peppering the pork tenderloin. Add some olive oil to a large oven safe pot and sear the pork tenderloin on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, jalapenos and cilantro to the pot and cook until beginning to caramelize and brown all over. Season with a pinch of salt. Pour in the beer and chicken stock. Squeeze the lime juice into the pot and throw in the whole lime. Return the pork tenderloin to the pot, cover and let braise in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is easily shredded. Remove the pork from the pot and shred with two forks. Set aside while you prepare the soup.
Strain the braising liquid into a bowl and discard the aromatics. Wipe out the pot and add some fresh olive oil to it. Heat over a medium heat and begin to sweat the tomatillos, poblanos, jalapenos, onions and garlic. Season with salt.
When the vegetables have softened, add the braising liquid back into the pot as well as the toasted, ground pumpkin seeds. Blend the soup either in a blender or with an immersion blender. When well pureed, bring to a simmer and add in the hominy. When the hominy is warmed through and the soup has thickened slightly, it’s done!
Place some of the braised pork into the bottom of a deep bowl. Ladle the pozole over the pork. Top with the avocado, radishes, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and a wedge of lime.