Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ad-Lib Posole

Note: this should really be dated April something, but the post just sat around as a draft for an entire month! Now it's May and we're back aboard, the weather is wet and blustery with whipped-up water inside the marina. That's reason enough to warrant a posole party, even though it's past Cinco de Mayo. I may be back on the boat but I still can't find my usual recipe, so here's the Ad-Lib Posole post and recipe anyway. I'll have to rely on this version for tomorrow's batch.

Photo: A warming bowl of  Posole, just waiting for toppings

"March went out like a lion, a'whippin up the water in the bay..." Those Rogers and Hammerstein lyrics ran through my mind repeatedly as I watched the surf build up on the lake. The music from Carousel is infectious that way, once those lilting melodies take hold, they stay with you all day. So I smiled and sang my way through the morning, ignoring the rainy windstorm raging outside the kitchen. Except when I tossed on a rain jacket and ventured outside to check on progress in the yard. 

RL worked with a 3-man crew to attack some major tree pruning, shrub trimming, planter bed cleaning, power washing, etc. Our yard is small, but during Spring cleanup it seems to grow acres larger. That's especially annoying since we're focused on leaving town and moving aboard the boat. While the fellows dealt with the landscape and the weather, I ad-libbed a large pot of posole. Why ad-libbed you ask? Because my usual recipe was left behind, stored somewhere on the boat, never transcribed onto the computer. I might prefer this new version anyway. It was certainly a hit on a chilly yardwork day. 

Posole is a classic dish, enjoyed for centuries in Mexico and the American southwest. It's a thick soup that's usually made with pork, hominy, garlic, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, and broth. Okay, I covered those bases with my freeform recipe. Green Posole and Red Posole are traditional holiday dishes in New Mexico, but location doesn't matter - posole makes any meal taste like a celebration. Ole!

Ad-Lib Posole

1/2 lb spicy sausage, cut in chunks  (I used Aidell's Habanero Mango Chicken)
1 lb pork, cut in chunks (bone-in shoulder is good, but even tenderloin will work)
1/4 lb loose pork sausage (I like chorizo, but only had JimmyDean Lite on hand)
2 poblano chiles, roasted/ peeled/diced (or 2 small cans diced green chiles)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 large tomatillos, husked and chopped, (or a dozen or more small ones)
2 tsp cumin
1 TB Mexican oregano
1 TB dried cilantro
1 can diced tomatoes and their juice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (more as needed)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large cans hominy, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn (Mexicorn is best, canned works well too)

Optional toppings might include:
Avocado chunks
Shredded kale or cabbage
Shredded jack cheese
Thinly-sliced radish
Tortilla strips or taco chips (freshly fried or packaged)
Chopped scallions
Chopped fresh cilantro
Salsa and hot sauces
Pickled jalapeno rings or nopalitos
Lime wedges

  1. Heat 1 TB canola oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat: sear the pork chunks in several batches until browned on all sides, but not crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pot and set aside. In the same pot cook the loose sausage until no longer pink.  Add the chunks of spicy sausage and cook until they release their fat and become browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pot and set aside.  Leave 2 TB of fat in the pot and discard the rest.
  2. Add the diced onions to the pot and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatillos; stir and cook for another minute. Add the spices and cook until they become fragrant, another minute or two.
  3. Return the meat to the pot. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently until the pork is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the hominy and corn and simmer until softened and heated through.
  5. Serve and accompany with a platter of assorted toppings. The broth is tasty by itself, but oh! it's heavenly when you add handfuls of your favorite toppings. Use a wide variety, the toppings make a big difference.

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