Mexican Christmas? Well, not really. But I was put in charge of dinner on Monday night, the 23rd, and really really wanted to try out pozole. The taqueria I really like here in Munich keeps serving it, but somehow I keep missing it whenever I am there to grab lunch. They are either out of it already or haven’t made it on that day. And apparently, pozole is quite a traditional dish to serve on Christmas in Mexico. So the pozole was at least appropriately timed if not culturally fitting.
Pozole is made with meat (generally pork, although I used chicken) and a special form of corn – in english, called “hominy.” According to wikipedia: “To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash, a process termed nixtamalization.” It helps soften the corn, more or less removing the outer layer of the kernel. You can buy it either canned (forget this in Germany, or at least in Munich), or dried – so it needs to be reconstituted with water over night and then cooked for a very very very long time.
There is a fairly wide variety of recipes out there for pozole. Some people make it green and sour – with tomatillos and green chilis and such. Others go for a red version – rich with red chilies. I ended up with my own version. I used this recipe as a guide, but went off-road fairly quickly. ;-)
First step is to make chicken soup – which I did with dark meat only. Rather than using flat Italian parsley in the soup I put in cilantro/coriander to imbue a Mexican flavor from the get-go.
The recipe called for a variety of chilis, but I had no chance of getting them all here. I’d bought some canned poblanos from a local mexican grocery, which was at least a good start. Although what I wasn’t able to do was char the skin of the peppers and roast them. So…compromises compromises…
To make the pozole itself, I blended a mixture of chilis, garlic, onions to form a sort of paste/base flavor. This gets gently sauteed in oil for a few minutes, and then I added tomato puree and the chopped up poblanos.
After a few stirs, the corn went in next.
And finally the chicken stock.
Simmer for about an hour, letting the flavors meld and the corn soften further. Then add in the chicken (which you have removed from the bones) and let the whole stew cook for a bit longer.
Meanwhile you can chop up all the toppings for pozole – not a few. Cabbage is traditional, as is chopped up and fried tortillas, lime, cilantro, onions, creme fraiche (well, it should have been a Mexican version, but close enough).
I baked some tortillas to make them into “tostadas” as well – a nice crispy alternative to bread or rice. Topped with black beans, some salsa and guacomole and a sprinkle of cheese, they rounded out the meal.
Not the flavors of Germany, but a nice spicy zing the day before the more traditional German Christmas fare.
Definitely a recipe to make again (and if you want a more exact recipe, just message me, I’ll try to come up with the amounts I used for everything) – but next time the corn needs to be cooked even longer. Now off to the taqueria again today. Maybe they’ll have pozole for me to try and compare mine with.