I remember five years ago when I called my mom and told her I just purchased a tortilla press. She proclaimed happily, Ah! Now you have a Mexican Kitchen. And I beamed.
But last year, you wouldnt have known it. I was obsessed by learning how to bake and while I did try a lot of new dinner recipes, most were about keeping it simple and familiar. So as I ended the year, pretty satisfied on my progress as a baker, I put my focus back to where I feel most comfortable, on the TOP portion of the stove. And in order to still make it a challenge, I decided to restore the honor of my Mexican Kitchen by learning more about Mexican Regional Cuisine. And I decided to start off with one my absolute favorite dishes, Jalisco-Style Red Pozole by Patricia Quintana
Patricia Quintana is Mexicos answer to Wolfgang Puck. Shes a super star chef in Mexico because of her famous Mexican City Restaurants and her traditional, yet unconventional recipes (Which has elicited a few words from purists like Diana Kennedy). I respect her completely and was very much looking forward to trying this recipe of hers despite some concerns
First, the broth seemed entirely pork based (2lbs Butt, 1lbs Neck) with only 2 chicken wings to help balance out the flavor. My mother makes her Pozole with a lot more Chicken because she claims pork broth is MUCH too strong for a proper soup Second, I was nervous about the Chile Sauce to flavor the broth. The recipe to me seemed to be HORRIBLY spicy and not all that complex. Truth be told, my familys secret pozole ingredient is Las Palmas Enchilada sauce, which is VERY flavorful.
Nevertheless, I was looking to learn, so I drug out my big 7 qt Le Cruset Dutch Oven and began the recipe.
First ingredient 8 quarts water
Uh The Le Cruset is my BIGGEST pot, and I actually lamented a bit getting one so BIG. *Sigh* So, my fears of an ultra porky stinky broth were in full force. Nevertheless, I I went ahead and filled the pot up to almost the brim, leaving just enough space to put in the meats and seasonings without it bubbling over. Luckily I had to leave it boiling uncovered to reduce And if the broth came out a little strong, all Id have to do is add water right?
Then I worked on my Red Sauce. Made it pretty much to the letter and as I strained the sauce, it gave me QUITE a bit of it. As I predicted, it was POTENT, but a bit bland.
2 Hours had passed and my broth had reduced nicely. I let it cool a bit, strained the broth, wiped clean my Le Cruset (I really LOVE this thing!) and shredded up the meats. I was SO Happy to see how my pork chunks had become SO tender. After skimming the broth a bit, I went in for a taste YUM!!!!! It wasnt too porky at all; instead it had a nice clean taste. I added a bit more salt to help perk it up and then dumped in the shredded meats and poured in a little bit of the red sauce, stirred and tasted. I poured in a little more and tasted again. This is important because the sauce was SO spicy it would totally over power the delicate broth. So in the end I only used about a little more than half of the sauce! But at this point you want the soup to be on the spicy side. With the hominy and then the condiments you will add to the soup when served, the spice will be tamed
The final step, I added TWO 28oz Cans of Hominy. This recipe only calls for one but Pozole MEANS hominy! And I love it!! Two cans were just barely enough . I wished I had a third I resisted pouring myself a big bowl right then and there. Instead I covered up my big pot and put it to bed in the fridge (Pozole tastes better the next day!)
And so, the following day, I rushed home after school to have my Pozole!
I opened the pot and saw a thing of pure beauty. The broth was almost like jelly. I put the entire thing to reheat and began chopping up my condiments (Thin sliced Cabbage, Radish Slices, Chopped Onion and Cilantro and Quartered Lemon) and served myself a large bowl and YUM!! Excellent, excellent Pozole! J
In the future, if I make this recipe again, I would add more meat (Like a couple of chopped up Chicken Breasts) just to hardy up the soup. I also might roast the Onion and Garlic before tossing them into the broth, the same with toasting the dried chilies for the sauce.
But overall, the recipe was much easier to handle than I thought and a success!! I was so glad I choose this recipe to be the first out of my reclaimed Mexican Kitchen and now Im off to dive head first into Rick Baylesss mother salsas from his Salsas the Cookbook :)