21 May 2015

Pozole Revisit

I've been playing around with my Pozole recipe for while now; I definitely like my red  sauce, and the ratio of ingredients is pretty good.

However, a recent visit to California gave me proof positive that "Hot New Mexico Red Chile Powder" is not always as hot as New Mexico red chile powder. Yes, that sentence makes sense to people who cook. I simply could not amp up my red sauce with the chile available.  So, my advice - once you find a combination you like, stick with it! (And next time, I'm bringing chile powder with me)

For me, the big eye-opener was the huge difference in corn! In my original recipe, I didn't see much difference between canned hominy and dried; cooking with dried was extremely time consuming, requiring multiple boil/rinse cycles. However, I read about a different technique, and decided to give it a try.

OMG! I am officially a convert!

Preparing the corn:
First (and MOST important), select the right corn.  This is the good stuff:

This is most definitely NOT:

The no-good stuff is still processed like hominy (con cal, in Spanish), but it *ruined* my dish -  just ask my family, who had piles and piles of corn peels left from the bowls of stew I forced them to eat.
For some reason, the good stuff "pops" and the outer skin of the corn is soft (aka edible); the bad stuff, not so much. See that "skin" near the handle of the spoon? That will end up in someone's napkin...

OK, back to it...
Once you have the right corn, the second part of the process is to soak it overnight in water. If you have cooked dried beans, then you know what to do. The next day, drain and rinse the corn, then cook in a big pot with enough water to cover the corn. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for several hours (I let mine go all afternoon) - make sure you don't boil off the water!

This process is much less involved than the boil/rinse/repeat method for dried corn, and it is much more flavorful and tactilely satisfying than the canned version.

One thing that I do (but only when I'm sure of my corn!), is to make the sauce first, then add water and pre-soaked corn, then the other ingredients - this means I only use one pot, and everything cooks together for hours (seasonings fully infuse everything, and the pork is incredibly tender).

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