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Pozole Rojo de Puerco by Maricela Vega

Recipe: Pozole Rojo de Puerco

Maricela Vega / Chicomecóatl / Atlanta, Georgia

Pozole is slow food. It’s a leading up to process that is suited perfectly for the kitchen fiend just like my grandmother was and I am. Ma Diega was always awake by 4 a.m. to cook. While she waited for one ingredient, she would hop to another part of the dish. By 6 p.m., the entire patió would fill a smokey, savory smell. Most times no announcement was made when food was ready because, all twenty members of the family would come walking up to the kitchen from the smells.

She prepared pozole for me the minute she knew I would be coming to the village, as its my favorite dish of all time. The ingredients were also always available: we always had maize and chile peppers on hand from our harvest; my aunt Angelina raised livestock so she would select the pork the morning of the big feast. A pig would be sacrificed to welcome us back home since in those days sacrificing an animal was done only for special occasions.

Most summers aunts, uncles, cousins and all tried to meet at my grandmother’s house in Guanajuato for two weeks. Those who returned had left to help build a better life for themselves and family; some were lucky to have left at the time visas and citizenships were being granted without too much hassle in the late 80s and 90s. There were others who couldn’t make it, and would hear about our stories upon our return. We purposely drove so we could bring back a carload of goods for undocumented family members and for nostalgic meals.

“Pozole para la nina,” she would say.

8 dried guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded

2 teaspoons whole allspice berries 

5 whole cloves

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns

2 teaspoons annatto seed 

10 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lard

2 pounds pork shoulder

8 cups prepared hominy, either canned or fresh*

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Heat chiles in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and cook, turning once, until toasted, about 5 minutes; transfer to a blender, cover with 8 cups boiling water, and let sit for 20 minutes. 

While the chiles are soaking, add the spices to the Dutch oven and toast until fragrant. Add the spices to the blender along with the garlic, blend until smooth and set sauce aside.

Heat the lard in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. While the pot is heating, season the pork generously with salt. Sear the pork on all sides until deeply browned, 3-5 minutes per side. Add the sauce to the pot, cover, and braise in the oven until tender, 3-4 hours.

Stir in the hominy and vinegar, salt to taste, and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. 

Serve with cilantro, oregano, lime, onions, tortilla, and cabbage if desired.

You can find canned hominy in almost every grocery store, but if you can find a source for whole, dried hominy corn, it’s worth the effort to nixtamalize your own.

(From Crop Stories No.6)

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