New Mexicans have been enjoying posole as a holiday tradition for centuries, starting long before even the Spaniards arrived. Posole corn is prepared by soaking hard kernels of traditional white field corn in powdered lime and water - a method thought to mimic the ancient preservation of corn in limestone caves. After several hours, when the corn kernels have swollen, the liquid is allowed to evaporate and the kernels to dry. Where the more commonly recognized hominy is soft and relatively bland, posole corn is dry and has an intense and earthy flavor. (see more below)
1Personal notes continued:
Most posole in the southern part of the state is made with red chiles, while in the northern portions it may be made with red or green chiles.
While it appears that this is a labor intensive recipe, it really isn't that bad. Much of the time is spent simply waiting as something soaks or cooks. Not only do you end up with bowls of true New Mexico comfort food, but your kitchen will smell as if it just moved there from Santa Fe!
Posole note: If you are using dried posole, soak it in good water (initially using twice as much water as the volume of posole) for at least 12 hours. Rinse the soaked posole and discard the water.
2Prepare the pork:
Place the pork shoulder in large pot or Dutch oven and cover it with the water. Add the garlic, cumin, bay leaf, onion and salt. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer the meat until it is fully cooked, bout 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat and let it cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull or chop the meat. Set the meat aside. Remove meat from the bone and pull it apart into small pieces. Set the meat aside. Strain and reserve the broth in a separate large bowl.
3Prepare the posole:
Place the posole in the large pot you cooked the pork. Add 4 cups of the reserved broth, the onion and salt. Over medium high heat, bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer it until the posole has started to “bloom”, about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. The posole should swell and start to resemble popcorn, but will still be chewy.
4Prepare the chile sauce:
While the posole is simmering, rinse off the chile pods, remove the stems and place them in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining 2 cups of broth. Cover the pot and, over the very lowest possible heat, them the chiles soak until they have softened, about 20 minutes. Note: Remove the seeds if you want a milder chile. Place the chile pods in a blender and add enough broth to come 1/2- to 2/3-way up the chiles. Blend them until the mixture is smooth. Strain the red chile sauce into a medium bowl.
5Combining the pork, posole and chile sauce:
When the posole has begun to "bloom," add the pork, chile sauce, and any remaining broth and let it finish cooking, The total cooking time will be about 4-6 hours, and the posole is fully cooked when it has completely opened and is tender when chewed. Stir the posole mixture periodically, adding hot water if necessary. Do not allow it to dry out. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. The key to a successful posole is watching for it to finish “blooming”.
6Serve in bowl and place the garnishes on the table so that each can do their own. Garnish may include: sliced limes, chopped cilantro, finely chopped onion, fresh Mexican oregano leaves, cubed avocado, or grated cheese.