I first came across pozole at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais MN. I then returned home to spend several hours reading about this delicious soup and about hominy, which I had only vaguely heard of in reference to movies that take place in the south.
If you’re new to hominy, What The Hell is Hominy, Anyway? is a pretty basic primer.
Finding hominy in Thunder Bay turned out to be something of a challenge. It seems like it’s something that’s probably more widely available in larger (or more southern) centers. If you can find canned hominy, I’m sure that would work just as well and be a lot less trouble than using dried. If you’re in Thunder Bay, you can find dried hominy at Renco’s Foods on Court St. They have it at the Bulk Zone too, but it’s sort of ground (maybe what gets used for grits? I have no idea) but that’s not what you want for this recipe.
While traditional pozole generally uses pork shoulder, making enough soup to use such a large cut of meat would make a lot of soup. I’ve substituted two bone in chops instead. It seems like a lot of traditional recipes also call for tomatillos- which I also had difficulty finding in Thunder Bay (I did find them at the Bulk Zone, but didn’t use them in the recipe)
I make no claims that this is anything like traditional pozole, but it is delicious and worth the time. It also has had the side effect of making me a bit obsessed with hominy.
Time: about 25 minutes prep, 2 hours simmer *see note about hominy prep, if not using canned
Serves: 4 generously
You will need:
- 2 bone in pork chops (about 500g, about 1lbs)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium/large onion diced
- 1 beer, preferably something Mexican like Corona (omit or use a GF beer for this recipe to be GF -or you could just use broth to deglaze)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely minced (measure after mincing) plus more for garnish if desired
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeños minced
- 2 cups hominy* canned if you can find it
- 3 poblano peppers
- 1 tbsp ground cumin (I always toast and grind mine so it’s more flavourful, you may want to add more if you’re using regular ground cumin)
- 10 cups water or combination of water and chicken broth (3 tbsp veggie bouillon if using plain water)
- juice of one lemon
- lime wedges
- avocado for garnish if desired
- Salt and pepper
*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.
In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, add 1 tbsp canola oil and heat over medium high. Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper, and cook, turning once, until they have some good colour – it doesn’t matter if they are cooked through as they will cook in the soup. When both sides are browned, remove from pot and add chopped onion.
Cook onion for about 5 minutes until translucent. It will probably pick up a lot of colour from the browned bits from the pork chops. Add minced garlic cloves and stir for one more minute. Add the beer a bit at a time, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot until you’ve added the whole beer. Return the pork chops to the pot, and add the water/chicken broth.
Add the 1/4 cup minced cilantro, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp minced pickled jalapeño peppers and two cups of hominy to the pot. Simmer soup uncovered over medium for 1 hour.
While soup is simmering, char poblano peppers. This can be done on the BBQ, in the oven under broil, or in the flame of a gas stove. You want the outside skin to be charred and blackened all over. This took me 20 minutes in my toaster oven on the broil setting. When peppers are charred all over, either toss into a paper bag and close, or put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off skin, chop roughly and add to soup.
After soup has simmered for an hour, remove pork chops and shred the meat from the bone. Discard bone and return meat to the pot. Add the juice of one lemon. Simmer uncovered for another hour.
All of this uncovered simmering is going to cause your soup reduce somewhat and that’s just fine, though you can taste and add more liquid if desired.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional cilantro, slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime slice, and cheesy tortillas if desired.