Ah, the tastes of Christmas in the American Southwest: tamales, ponche, and pozole.
Everyone knows what tamales are, and ponche is a hot fruit punch traditionally served to guests as part of las posadas. But pozole, to me, is the queen of the Christmas table.
Pozole, in case you've been living under a rock in northwestern Maine for the last few decades, is a magical elixir, a soup made of pork, hominy corn, and chile (traditionally red in New Mexico, but green and white pozoles exist as well) seasoned with onion, garlic and herbs. It takes hours to make, because you have to make broth and then cook the funk out of the dried nixtamalized corn. Every family has its secrets: some add a chicken back to take to help with the terrible odor the hominy gives off as it cooks; some use tomatillos and fresh green chiles; some even blend a little pipián, pumpkin-seed sauce, into the mixture.
Then there's the Barilla method. Barilla Pasta developed a pozole recipe that was posted on AllRecipes.com, which is the least trustworthy recipe site on the entire Internet, and they apparently developed it by looking at grainy pictures of pozole on the Internet. The recipe calls for an entire box of elbow macaroni, most of a jar of pasta sauce, a rotisserie chicken, a can of hominy, and two tablespoons of “chipotle pepper sauce” (up to you to determine whether that means the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles—the spicy version—or two tablespoons of Tabasco Chipotle sauce—the vinegar version). You pretty much just dump and stir, and it's ready in under half an hour. What you end up, if the picture is any guide, is pasta and hominy floating in something like thinned-out gringo salsa.
I'm not sure whether this is more offensive to Mexicans (¡no es pozole, babosos!) or to Italians (non è minestrone, cafoni!), but I'm almost curious enough to make it. Almost.
Make no mistake: this is 2015's answer to Sandra Lee's eye-bulgingly terrible Kwanzaa cake. Whoever okayed this travesty needs a swift chancla upside the head.
Meanwhile, if you would like to make real pozole, here's a nice recipe that will bring a little taste of Albuquerque to your holidays.