Make It Mexican With Roland: Pozole

I admit it. Before meeting with Roland Rubalcava a couple of days ago I had no idea what pozole was, and I actually called it “Po-zol” (the e is silent?) However, after a quick explanation from my extremely Mexican editor, and an hour with Roland, I am no longer in the dark. So, whether you are super gabacha like me, or just want to learn how to make this amazing dish–the Weekly is here to help. Pozole is a very simple, and relatively easy soup to make. It's hearty, but healthy, and when made correctly, can taste incredibly fresh.

Step 1: Cook The Meat

Traditionally, pozole is made with all parts of the piggy–that means parts that might gross out Americans like snout, neck bones, and feet. However, you're the one making the soup and so the meat is really up to you. Most traditionalists would actually fight over the feet, Roland says, but ultimately you should choose what you like. Pork butt or cushion make very tasty choices, but you can also use chicken parts if you're not a red-meat eater.

Roland recommends dicing your chosen cuts into thick squares, like you would do for a stew. The amount depends solely upon how many people you would like to feed. He says that five pounds will feed about 10 adults. After dicing the meat, simply place it into your stockpot and add enough cold water to completely submerge the meat, with about four extra inches on top. Obviously, but maybe not, the pot should be large enough so that there is still ample room after the meat and water have been added.

Then boil the meat on medium to high heat for about an hour. This time will vary depending on how much meat you're cooking, but Roland says it is more important to pay attention to the texture of the meat rather than the timing to tell when it is ready. You can move to the next step when the meat is not quite fork tender. So, it should be soft on the outside, but still a little tough in the middle.

Tip: If you want a cleaner soup, meaning not cloudy from the fat floating around, simply tie the meat in a sack of cheesecloth before boiling. This way, you get all of the flavor and none of the bits. Depending on your style that may be a good or bad thing, though.

Step 2: Add The Spices

Step Two can be completed while the meat is still boiling. For the spices you will need some dried chilies, garlic cloves, onions, and cumin powder. Roland likes to use California chilies or New Mexico Chiles, which you can buy at Mexican markets like La Reina or at Rubalcava's in Placentia. Use whatever amount of chiles you're comfortable with, but be mindful that you don't want to drown the flavor in a big pot of stock. For five pounds, of meat, three to four chiles would be good.

Lightly chop up a garlic clove, using about half a clove for every 3 lbs. of meat. Then lightly chop a whole small to medium-sized Spanish onion. When you have these ingredients ready, toss them into your food processor with a tablespoon of salt and a dash of cumin. Grind the spices into a smooth, pasty cream.

Because cooking does not need to be as exact as baking, these amounts can be used at your own discretion. You'll really only know how much chile you like, or garlic flavor you want after tasting it for the first time–but one thing is for sure, don't be afraid to salt!

Step 3: Add the Hominy

When the meat is almost fork tender, you may add in your spicy paste, followed by the hominy. Roland highly suggests just buying your hominy canned from the store. Some people make their own, but it requires hours of labor-intensive work that is difficult to master.

Many different sized cans are available and they're all pretty cheap. Roland says a six-pound can of hominy is good for five pounds of meat, but of course, you can add more or less depending on how much hominy you desire. Just make sure to drain all of the water out of the can. Once you have added the spices, put the hominy in right after, and bring the stove to a low heat.

After adding the hominy, the pozole will be ready in 10 to 15 minutes. Before announcing to everyone that they can dig it, make sure to check the meat one more time; if it is soft and falls apart, you're ready to go.

Step 4: Add All the Fixins

Once you've scooped your piping hot pozole into a big bowl add the quintessential fixings. This means sliced radishes, finely chopped cabbage, chopped onion, oregano, dried chilies or serranos, hot sauce, and limes for squeezing. Roland says that Tapatío, Valentina, and Porki are the most popular hot sauces for pozole. Porki is his dad's favorite, but he prefers Valentina. Just, if you can, don't throw any Tabasco on this bowl.

The last side, and possibly the most important, are good tostadas. Roland likes thick tostadas that can easily be dunked into a bowl and not break. You can buy this kind at the Mexican market with your chiles.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Pozole is so easy to make, and can be reheated in the microwave (and pozole is one of those miracle foods that are better as it gets older–but only for a few days, of course). Of course, if after reading this you're just feeling too lazy, head over to Rubalcava's and have Roland make you a bowl instead.

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