At Pauline Memorial School in Colorado Springs, where I (begrudgingly) attended the 4th and 5th grades, Mrs. Gerlach brought a group of students annually on “The Santa Fe Trip.” A mis-leading title, to be sure, as it was much, much more than just Santa Fe, and I remember those trips fondly as some of the best eye-opening and learning experiences of my life. She brought us to New Mexico to learn about Native American traditions and to learn where they are now, which is, sadly, a difficult thing to see and digest. And speaking of digesting, she also introduced me (and my parents, who both served as chaperones) to some of the best food in the entire world.
We visited Taos Pueblo, where I was fascinated to discover that, for residents of the pueblo, having your photograph taken meant part of your soul was captured as well. I was also introduced to fry bread and handmade tamales that were so good that I have never found their equal. We visited the incredible Acoma pueblo (a “city in the sky” located on top of a mesa) and learned about seed pots. We bartered with Native Americans in the Santa Fe’s Old Town Square for hand-crafted jewelry and ate sopaipillas, and we visited the amazing Rancho De Las Golondrinas, where I had my first chili verde, and my first pozole.
Pozole is a wonderful stew that comes in many forms and variations, but in my experience it always contains pork, and always contains hominy. The recipe I am sharing here can hardly be considered “classic” or “traditional” by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a rather tasty homage that worked wonderfully (and is quite light and healthy too, I might add. Also, there’s tequila in it. Yeah baby.) There is a plastic container of leftovers upstairs in my fridge right now that I can’t wait to dive into for lunch. ”EAT ME,” it’s saying.
Neutrally-flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola
1 boneless pork tenderloin roast, trimmed of all excess fat if necessary
1 onion, washed, peeled, and diced small
1 jalapeño pepper, washed, cored, seeded, and minced
2 cloves garlic, washed, peeled, and minced
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground chili powder (if you can find ground ancho chili powder, use that)
1/4 cup tequila
About 3 cups of veal stock, chicken stock, or water (NOTE: I used home-made veal stock, which is bold and rich, and cut it with a bit of water. If you just use water, the recipe will work, but you will sacrifice some of the flavor potential.)
1 bay leaf
1 16 oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro leaves, chopped fine
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled cotija cheese
1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over high flame, heat just enough of the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Dry the pork tenderloin well with paper towels, and season liberally with salt and pepper. When the oil is nice and hot, sear the pork tenderloin on all sides. You want a nice, deep golden-brown color, and you want the little brown bits in the bottom of the pan. All of that is good stuff! Just be careful you don’t take it too far and burn the meat or the bits in the pan. You can always turn down the heat if it’s cooking too fast. When a nice sear has been achieved, turn off the flame and remove the meat and reserve it on a plate.
2. Dump the excess oil in the pot, but leave all the little brown bits in there. Return pot to the stove over medium-high heat. Add all but a small handful of the diced onions (the rest are for garnish at the end) and stir to coat with the remaining oil. Sweat the onions until they are translucent but not browned. Add the jalapeño,garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili powder, and cook 1 minute more. Pour in the tequila and scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until the tequila has reduced by about half.
3. Pour in enough of the stock or water to be about 1-1 1/2″ deep in the pot. Toss in a bay leaf. Bring liquid to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Return the meat to the pot and cover, allowing everything to braise at a gentle simmer on the stove for about 2 hours, or until the meat can easily be pulled apart with two forks. Do not boil the meat or it will become tough. When meat is ready, go ahead and pull it apart with the two forks until you have nicely-sized stew chunks. Add more stock or water to reach the desired amount of liquid, and add the hominy, lime zest, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. At the very last minute, stir in the chopped cilantro. To serve, ladle the stew into large bowls and serve hot, topped with sliced radishes, diced onion, cotija cheese, and extra cilantro if desired.
Yield: This recipe should be sufficient for 4 entrée servings, or 6-8 starter servings.Printer Friendly