Friday, September 28, 2007

Vegetarian Pozole

In Austin, we ate a meal at Casa de Luz, a vegan restaurant, where we were served pozole as one of the courses. It had been so long since Pedro or I had eaten pozole. Pozole is a very traditional Mexican dish; it is hominy stew. I decided to try to make some upon returning home to Florida. It turned out fabulous, shown above. I didn't have a vegetarian recipe, but it still turned out, substituting pinto beans for the pork.

I used dried hominy and beans instead of canned, as I don't mind taking time to cook. I know shortcuts are useful to many people, so canned hominy and beans are very tempting time-savers. But, to me, a big part of the appeal of eating pozole is getting the pleasure of smelling it simmer for hours on the stove. The aroma is unbeatable. Anyway, if using dried hominy, it is best to soak it either overnight or for at least six hours prior to starting to cook the dish. Above I show soaking the hominy in room temperature water. I started soaking at about 7:30 am and I started simmering the pozole around 2:30 pm. The dish was ready to eat by 5 pm.

Vegetarian Pozole
serves about 8 servings

2 cups dry hominy
1 1/2 cups dry (uncooked) pinto beans, carefully inspected for rocks and debris
water for soaking and for simmering

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
3 guajillo chiles, stem removed, seeded, de-veined, and torn into small pieces
3 ancho chiles, stem removed, seeded, de-veined, and torn into small pieces

1 28oz can of organic chopped tomatoes (fire roasted are great if you can find them)
Mexican oregano, at least 1 teaspoon, or more to taste
a pinch of ground cloves
salt to taste

Optional ideas for Garnishes:
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped radishes
lime wedges
chunks of avocado
Mexican crema or sour cream
minced red onion, blanched briefly to take away the bite
chopped green onions
thin strips of crispy fried tortillas
finely shredded cabbage or lettuce

Cooking instructions:

1. Soak the dry hominy in water at least 6 hours or overnight. Theoretically you can also soak your pinto beans at the same time, in a separate bowl. I live at sea level, and I find I never need to pre-soak my beans. But, when I lived in Michigan, I always had to soak them. I'm not sure if it has to do with elevation or the freshness of the beans I have available to me now.

2. After soaking, strain and rinse away the soaking water. Add both the hominy and the pinto beans to a large pot with plenty of fresh filtered water to cover, keeping in mind that the beans and hominy will almost double in size and absorb water as they cook. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer until tender. The hominy should swell and then burst open. They will become soft but will have some chewiness. The pinto beans should become very soft, and not feel chalky or crunchy. This can take anywhere from two hours to four hours, depending on many things, such as how fresh the hominy and beans were.

3. While the pozole (hominy stew) is simmering, prepare the chili sauce that will be added later to flavor the dish. To make it, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan with medium high heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic and chiles and saute at least five minutes or until the onion is soft. Then, ladle at least two cups of the broth from the pozole pot into the chile pot. Bring the chile mixture to a boil and simmer for at least fifteen minutes, pictured above.

4. Pour the simmered chile mixture into a blender and carefully blend until it becomes a smooth sauce. Set aside.

5. When the hominy and pintos are soft and well cooked, add the chili sauce and the can of tomatoes. Season with oregano and salt to taste, and add the ground cloves. Simmer for about a half an hour [uncovered] to develop all of the flavors.

6. Serve in bowls and garnish to your liking. It will taste even better the next day, so be sure to refrigerate the leftovers or freeze for future lunches.

I made some blue cornbread muffins to eat with our pozole, and they went together wonderfully. [Update: recipe for the blue cornbread muffins is here.]


Amy said...

Can I come eat at your house?? Wow, that looks tasty. :)

Kathleen said...

Hi Amy! Thanks for the compliment! If you're ever coming to Northeast Florida, let me know!

Don Jorge said...

i recently moved to seattle from l.a. and am from Mexico.

here in seattle there's not a ton of pozole and to complicate things, I'm a vegetarian now.

This recipe looks awesome though! You're a life saver!