Spicy Pozole Soup to Heat Up the Month of May

Ah Pozole, you’ve been on my mind for such a long time, so nice to finally get to have you! Ok, in case you didn’t know, I enjoy food, really good tasting, spicy and flavorful foods. My mouth waters when I think of certain dishes I’ve had over the years and plot in my head when I’m going to have it again. I’ve only had Pozole at restaurants and always wanted to learn how to make it since my favorite taqueria only serves it on Sunday…pfft. This soup just makes me feel so happy and cozy. Have you ever had a meal that just makes you feel this way? It’s what keeps me going back to certain places and it’s what inspires me to cook. Food should do that, it should make you smile and feel inspired for what ever.

Pozole is a popular Mexican soup made with hominy (pozole) and pork. Pozole is used in the soup but the soup also goes by same name. It’s mostly a broth with seasoned chunks of tender pork shoulder and lots of fixings. The soup is usually brought out with several mini bowls filled with chopped onions, cilantro, cabbage, jalapenos, avocados and you get to add as much as you like. It’s also what makes it so interesting, you get this piping hot bowl of soup with cool, crunchy cabbage, raw onions, a bit of acidity from the limes and heat you can adjust to your liking. Love that! Another note is that it’s a great option for those looking for gluten free recipes.

I made the red version of Pozole which uses pureed chile peppers but it can also be made with a clear broth. I also had a head start because I used a leftover pork shoulder roast I had froze after Easter dinner. I probably cut the cook time down by at least an hour because of this so if you don’t have any leftover roast, don’t fret, the stove is doing all the cooking! This is pretty much what I had…I’d say about 2-3 lbs on bone and just dropped whole thing in seasoned water to make the broth. I did remove some of the meat to brown it up a little.

Since I started with leftovers, I removed as much meat as possible and browned that meat in a little vegetable oil, with onions and garlic. I then added it to the broth with all the other seasonings. If you start with raw meat, your pork should be cut into cubic chunks and you’ll definitely have more meat than I had, see below. I adapted this recipe from Simply Recipes so please check out their instructions on preparing the raw meat.

Make this stew on a chilly day, it’ll make you feel warm and relaxed or make it after a night of hanging out and help cure that hangover! Better yet, make it to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, is a day that’s become very popular here in the US for celebrating Mexican food and culture. This year is it’s 150th anniversary. The day marks a small battle won by Mexicans in the state of Puebla in an unlikely defeat against the French in the late 1800’s. A small battle, with respect to the rest of the revolution, but very important in boosting morale in the area and its people. Here in the states the day has turned into an overly hyped and commercialized “holiday”. This is fine by me since I tend to stay away from the loud, crazy parties and I already got my fill in college! I just enjoy the good times with friends and family. For me it’s another day I get to have great Mexican food as I try to do all year round!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

ps. This soup is spicy with the chipotle peppers!  The original recipe called for a guajillo chile sauce but that hardly has any heat at all so I opted for the chipotles in adodo. If you like it spicy, you’ll love this! You can try just adding half the chipotle peppers first, tasting soup after 5 minutes and then add the rest if spice is right for you. Soup is usually served with diced jalapenos but you don’t really need it for this dish, at least I didn’t think so.

Red Spicy Pozole
serves 6-8
adapted from Simply Recipes

2-3 lbs pork shoulder, cooked or leftovers
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oregano
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp pepper
8 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, chopped
1 16 oz can of hominy, “pozole
1 4 oz can of chipotles in adobo sauce

Fixings
1 haas avocado, cut into small chunks
1 small onion, diced
1 cup of cilantro chopped
1 red cabbage, shredded
1 cup of radishes, sliced

1. Take off all the meat from bone and set aside.  Since I started with leftovers I already had seasoned meat so I just wanted to brown the meat a bit more. Take the bone and add it to a large pot and cover with water. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, oregano, bay leaves and 4 whole garlic cloves and let boil. Make sure you taste and adjust the salt if you like. Let boil for at least 30 minutes so you get a well flavored broth from the bone.

2. Heat up 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the chunks of pork and toss around with the onions. Once the meat is browned a bit, add 4 minced cloves of garlic and stir.

3. Add the browned meat to the broth mixture, then add the pozole and let cook for another 10-15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so. The pozole will plump up to twice it’s size.

4. Add the chipotle in adobo sauce to a blender and puree the chiles making sure the chiles are well chopped. Add the sauce to the Pozole soup and stir.

5. Lower the heat and let the Pozole simmer for another 10 minutes until the flavors are all blended well.

6. While the soup is cooking, prepare all the fixings and add each to small serving bowls.

7. Serve the Pozole in bowls and add as many fixings as you like.

Taqueria Downtown: Spicy Food to Warm the Soul

It’s been a little damp here the past couple of days and unseasonably warm for December. Just really odd weather, cold and chilly one night and then it shoots up 20 degrees the next day. Now the weather folks are saying snow tomorrow! Huh?! Is this a sign of a frigid winter to come?

Well, if that’s the case, I’m ready. Gloves? Check. Shovel? Check. Dog friendly ice melter? Check. Easy access to one of the best Mexican food spots in the area in case I don’t feel like cooking? Check! Now I love to cook and will share many of my recipes but sometimes I just want to go somewhere and enjoy amazing food. So on chilly, cold, or wet day like today, I love to go to one of my favorite places for authentic Mexican food,  Taqueria Downtown in Jersey City, NJ

This place is no-nonsense though. You order at the counter, you grab a seat, the food is brought to you, eat and split. That’s it, nothing fancy, awesome food and it’s BYOB. Oh and they have their public list of 10 rules or commandments about not serving up “guacamole side shows” or fajitas, and foregoing the bright Mexican decorations which many have come to expect at Mexican establishments but not here which is fine by me. All I want is great food and pleasant service. Let’s start with the soup. The Pozole is a must and one of my favorites but unfortunately it’s only offered on weekends.

The Pozole is a red broth soup made with pork, cabbage, hominy and served with sides of diced onions, cilantro and lime for extra toppings. This soup is spicy hot and will definitely get your sinuses cleared! It’s on my list of dishes I need to learn to make. The Tortilla Soup is pretty awesome too, it’s a little creamy which is different than what I’m use to making but the flavor is so good and comes topped with crema, avocados and smokey, roasted peppers. I can’t wait to go back for more.

I don’t think I’ve ever had anything there that wasn’t delicious. The tacos are so good and are made using basic ingredients…meat, onions, cilantro and a homemade spicy salsa. That’s it and that’s all you need.

Good food on a cold, chilly, snowy, rainy, sunny or any day? Check. OK, now I need to go get some!