Well, here we are! Welcome to the first recipe of 2010, and a new format (well, for me anyway) of presenting recipes. ‘Cause the whole food photography thing is beginning to become an obsession. I just hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
I was cruisin’ the net last week, wondering what to cook over the New Year’s holiday besides the requisite black-eyed peas (which turned out really well this year) and cornbread, when I came across this recipe for another “good luck” food, commonly eaten in the southwest as well as Mexico. And as I read it, my mouth began to water and I thought to myself, “Oh, I am SO makin’ that!” So I did, on New Year’s Eve.
And it was GOOD. Really, really good. Loaded with spices, flavorful chilies and chewy hominy, the first thing it made me think of was the menudo my former mother-in-law used to make rather frequently, without the nasty tripe and the awful smell the tripe made while cooking. (Let me just say, nasty tripe and awful smell aside, I like menudo. As long as I don’t have to smell it cooking or actually eat the tripe.) In fact, the posole smelled absolutely marvelous while it cooked – almost as good as it tasted.
The original recipe called for lime juice and cilantro, but the store was out of almost every fresh spice they carry (which will teach me to shop for something like this at the last minute on New Year’s Eve) and while I had the lime, I forgot to use it. Trust me, we didn’t miss it at all. In fact, the original recipe specified several things I couldn’t find here in Podunk – New Mexico chilies, ham hocks and Mexican oregano, for example – so I made several substitutions, none of which seemed to hurt the flavor at all. I served it with warm corn tortillas (it would probably go well with some good, hearty tortilla chips, as well) and Beloved loved it so much he called it a “new favorite.”
So, I guess I’ll be making it again. (It makes a lot, but reheats really well.)
4 standard-size cans of hominy, drained
1 1/2 pounds lean pork, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 slices premium, thick-sliced bacon, chopped and divided
4 cups of water
2 cans low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons chile powder
5 large dried red chilies (I used ancho chilies)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, cook half the chopped bacon over medium-high heat until brown and almost crisp; remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Lower heat slightly and add the chopped onion to the bacon fat in the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until soft – about 7 minutes. Add the cubed pork and cook, stirring frequently, until the pork is mostly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
Pour the water and beef broth into the pot, and add all of the bacon (both the cooked and uncooked), the oregano, cumin, ground cloves and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
Heat a dry, cast iron skillet over high heat; one at a time, add the dried chilies, turning frequently, until flexible – take care not to burn them. While each chile is still flexible, cut off the stem and slit it lengthwise; remove the seeds. Add the seeded chilies to a bowl of very hot water and soak until soft, about 20 – 30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the water used to soften the chilies, then drain the chilies and add them and the reserved soaking water to a blender and process to a smooth puree. Stir the puree into the pot with the pork.
Continue cooking for another 1½ to 2 hours, until the pork is almost tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Add the drained hominy; taste and adjust the spices and add salt and pepper. Cook for another hour or so, or until the pork is fork tender.
Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, sliced avocado and warm corn tortillas, if desired.