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Author Notes: The star of this month's spice box, this classic New Mexican posole is a light brothed, deeply flavorful and moderately spicy stew perfect for January. Made with hominy, large kernels of puffed white corn (posole just means "dried corn" and hominy means "cooked posole"), for body and traditionally made with pork shoulder for flavor. Our ground chile powder blend of New Mexican chili peppers, ancho and guajillo chiles and arbol chiles provide fruity, peppery depth with a bit of heat. The beauty of this dish is the ability to swap in vegetables, chicken or beef for pork and garbanzo beans for the hominy (if you can't find it locally) to suit your tastes. Top with winter root vegetables, like peppery radishes, chopped cilantro and lime to brighten this fun, warming dish just before serving.
It is by RowSpiceBar —RawSpiceBar
pounds pork shoulder (or beef shank, whole chicken; omit for vegetarians)
ounces canned whole tomatoes in puree
tablespoons vegetable oil
tablespoon honey or sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
Sliced radishes, chopped avocado, fresh cilantro or lime wedges for serving
- Choosing, Browning & Braising the Meat The type of meat cut is important for this stew focused dish. Because the posole is a stew meant to cook at a low heat for a long period of time, we recommend using a piece of meat with collagen. If you're using lamb, there is collagen in the shanks and they will cook down to a delectable meat. Same goes for pork shoulder and beef chuck. And if you're going the chicken route, make sure to use a whole or quartered chicken, bone-in and skin on. For vegetarians & vegans, you can skip this altogether. The most important step to browning your meat is to get rid of surface moisture. We like to use a paper towel to thoroughly blot the meat as dry as possible. A dry surface on your meat means that you'll get a nice, flavorful crust once it hits your hot pan, thanks to the Maillard reaction. Cut meat into 1 pound chunks (we bought 2 pounds and cut it in half) and season heavily with salt and pepper. Next, add your vegetable oil to your Dutch oven and turn up to medium high until the oil is lightly smoking. Add your meat and let it sit there until just the bottom side is deeply seared, about 5 minutes on each side. The key trick here is not to move the meat around and don't worry about searing every edge- just focus on the top and bottom. Braising the meat will take about 2 hours if braised whole. The braising process entails turning tough connective tissue (primarily the collagen) into gelatin- a process that relies both on time and temperature. We cook our meat in a Dutch oven on an oven setting of 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours.
- Brown the meat: 1. Bring meat to room temperature. Pat meat dry to remove all excess liquid, generously salt. 2. Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium high heat, until the oil is near smoking. Add and sear the meat, until well browned on each side. Try not to move the meat while it's searing. Remove meat from pot and set aside. Layer the aromatics: 1. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to dutch oven over medium heat. 2. Add chopped onions, scraping up the brown bits into the mix. Allow onions to begin to brown, about 10 minutes. 3. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add RawspiceBar's Ground Chiles and Posole Spices in thirds until fragrant, about 5 minutes. 4. Increase heat to medium. Add chopped tomatoes (juice removed) and let brown, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable oil as needed to keep contents moist. 5. Add reserved tomato juice and sugar (or honey) & combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Braise & simmer: 1. Add seared meat back to pot. Cover and put in conventional oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to braise for 2 hours until meat is fork tender. 2. When tender, remove posole from Dutch oven and temporarily remove meat. Chop meat into bite size pieces, about 1 inch each, set aside. 3. Puree pot contents into a sauce with an immersion blender (or leave chunky, if preferred). 4. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add canned hominy (or garbanzo beans) and chopped meat back to the pot and allow to cook for another 40-50 minutes on stovetop over medium-low heat until hominy is softened (if using dried hominy or garbanzo beans, soak over night first).