Cortez found Aztecs slurping this spicy meat-and-soaked-corn (hominy) stew when his army subdued their Mexican civilization centuries ago. The humble ingredients have hardly changed for this winter staple served throughout New Mexico, a holiday season favorite. It's celebratory comfort food with a fiery kick and cooling condiments. The first posole merged three ingredients then unknown beyond the Americas: corn, chile, and turkey. My late aunt Lucie Yeaman, a San Patricio apple farmer, marked the first snowfall each year with a steaming cauldron of pork shoulder posole laced with Hatch green chiles. Lucie also served posole on Christmas Eve to honor family and on New Year’s Day for good luck. Buen provecho!
- 2 cups dried posole corn (or precooked posole corn)
- 1 pound lean pork shoulder
- 4 dried green or red chile pods; stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped (or 4 cups prepared chile sauce)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
- Salt to taste
- Garnish: shredded Mexican cheese (queso fresco), chopped radishes, diced onions, shredded lettuce, red chile flakes, avocado chunks, and lime wedges.
Combine dried posole and 2 quarts water in medium bowl; cover and soak at room temperature overnight. Drain, rinse with water, drain again. (If using precooked posole, rinse well under cold water, then drain.)
In a soup pot, combine posole, pork, chile (or prepared chile sauce), and lime juice; add just enough water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 3 to 4 hours or until posole corn “pops” open. Check often, stirring and adding hot water in order to keep items just covered.
Remove pork shoulder and shred meat. Return meat to pot along with garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cover pot and simmer another half-hour. It should have a consistency of a thick soup when ready.
Serve in bowls with warm tortillas on the side. Set up a “buffet line” of shredded Mexican cheese (queso fresco), chopped radishes, diced onions, shredded lettuce, red chile flakes, avocado chunks, and lime wedges. Squeeze lime and add other toppings as desired.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2013. Award-winning journalist Richard Mahler passed away in 2017.