Pozole is one of the best Mexican dishes ever, and this post will teach you everything there is to know about it. Not only will you be able to talk about pozole as if you were born and raised in Mexico, but you will also be able to make it like any Mexican abuela. Don’t believe me? Read on!
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Introduction To Pozole
Pozole is one of the most typical, traditional Mexican dishes there are, and it is also one of the stars of Mexican cuisine. It is a thick, hearty, heavy, fatty, filling soup that is actually a whole meal in itself. It is also the go-to dish for any kind of party or celebration you can think of- birthdays, reunions, holidays, festivals, or just any Sunday dinner.
But what is pozole, exactly? Well, I could tell you it’s a soup, but it’s really more like a soup with a salad in it or a stew. Does it make sense if I tell you pozole is a soup-salad-stew? Because that’s really what it is. There is nothing else quite like it!
The history of pozole
Pozole has ancient roots. The Aztecs invented the dish many centuries ago, although it was almost certainly very different back then. The word “pozole” comes from the Aztec word “pozolli“, which means “foam“. This word describes the dish perfectly because the corn in it bursts open like foam bubbles when it is cooked. That’s probably how the dish got the name.
Pozole also has some macabre roots. In the 16th century, Friar Bernardino de Sahagun, a Spanish missionary, wrote his famous work The General History of the Things of New Spain. In it, he mentions that pozole was a dish served in honor of the spring god Xipe Totec. It was a sacred, ritual meal, fit only for priests and emperors, and it featured the meat of human sacrifice victims. In fact, rumor has it that pork became the meat of choice for the dish because it’s very similar to human flesh. Creepy, right?
There’s another, less scary version to the ancient pozole recipe. It is said that the dish was actually made with the meat of xoloitzcuintle dogs. This was a hairless kind of Aztec dog that was bred mainly for food. That may sound bizarre, but it’s a well-known fact these little dogs were considered supper back then. Xoloitzcuintle dogs still exist, but fear not! Nobody eats them anymore, of course.
After the conquistadores and missionaries arrived, the pozole recipe changed to include non-native ingredients like pork and chicken. In the end, this became the true nature of Mexican cuisine- the perfect blend of two distinct cultures.
Different Kinds Of Pozole
The recipe for pozole is different depending on where you are in Mexico. There’s red pozole, which comes from the northwest. There’s green pozole, which is made in the southeast. And there’s white pozole, which is typical of Central Mexico. There’s even a seafood pozole in the western coastal region! All of these recipes are slightly different in flavor, but they all share the same basic ingredients.
The most important ingredient in any kind of pozole is cacahuazintle or hominy corn. This is a special kind of corn, grown only in Mexico, that is very different from the corn you know and love. Cacahuazintle corn has big, fat, white, meaty kernels, and the main reason for its existence is to make pozole. That’s right. Tons of it are grown and harvested for this sole purpose. It’s incredible, I know.
Cacahuazintle corn has to be processed before you can throw it into a pot of pozole. First, it is cleaned and rinsed, and then it is boiled for hours with lime powder. Once it’s soft and cool, it has to be peeled kernel by kernel before it is ready to be used. It’s a painstaking process, and I’m sure many Mexican women toiled through it for centuries on end. Fortunately, nowadays you can just go to the supermarket, buy a bag of pozole corn, and you’re all set to start cooking!
Another classic pozole ingredient is a pig’s head. Yes, you read that right. Traditionally, you should also add a pig’s head to the broth mixture in order to give it a truly distinct flavor. Oh, and you should also include a couple of pig’s feet. No, I am not kidding. This is really how traditional pozole is made! Obviously, you would need a very large pot -or cauldron, maybe- to cook it this way.
So what do you do with the pig’s head and feet after they’re cooked? Well, all of the parts of the pig are edible, so you can just debone and chop everything up. Not a fan? I didn’t think you would like that idea, either. Don’t worry, you can just use regular pork, no head or feet, and the pozole will be just fine.
Basic Pozole Recipe
There are probably as many pozole recipes as there are abuelas in Mexico, but this is one way I know how to cook it.
In a pot, throw together a pound of pork, half a large onion, a garlic clove, a couple of bay leaves, about half a tablespoon of salt, and enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Let it cook for about an hour.
When the meat is almost cooked, add the bag of pozole corn to the broth and let it cook a while longer over low heat. The meat and corn both have to get really soft.
Now, the question is what color pozole you want to make- green, white, or red. The difference is the sauce you have to make and the chilies you have to use. Have you made up your mind yet? No? They’re all spicy and delicious. You really can’t go wrong!
Green Pozole Sauce
For this, you need to boil 8 or 10 green tomatillos and a couple of serrano chilies for about 5 minutes. Then, blend them with a chunk of onion, a garlic clove, cilantro, cumin, and an herb called epazote or Mexican tea. After that, cook this mixture with a little bit of olive oil and salt for a few minutes. Finally, strain the sauce and add it to the broth. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. To make the green sauce thicker, you can add roasted and ground pumpkin seeds. Also, in some regions, green pozole is served with sardines on the side.
Red Pozole Sauce
Boil a couple of ancho chilies and twice as many guajillo chiles for about 5 minutes. Then, blend them with a chunk of onion and a garlic clove. Cook and strain this mixture the same way as the green sauce. Red pozole is usually garnished with diced avocado and served with chicharron on the side.
White Pozole Sauce
Get 5 or 6 ancho chilies. Take out the veins and the seeds, and then soak them in hot water for a while. Just let them soak while you’re cooking the broth. Then, take them out and blend them with a little bit of the water. Strain this mixture into the broth and let it cook for about 10 or 15 minutes. In white pozole, you can also substitute the pork for chicken.
How To Serve Pozole
When everything is done, you’re finally ready to feast on some delicious, yummy pozole. Serve it in deep, large bowls and garnish with finely shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, chopped onion, and a bit of powdered oregano. Oh, and don’t forget to squeeze in some lime juice! While you’re at it, you can munch on some tostadas. I want pozole now!
The whole family got to enjoy big bowls of pozole on Mexican Independence Day. To drink, my husband and I enjoyed a couple of small glasses of tequila. It doesn’t get any more Mexican than that! The truth is you really haven’t lived until you’ve had a big, steamy bowl of good pozole. Don’t believe me? Try it and you’ll see. I dare you! Buen provecho!