A couple weeks ago, a group of us from work went on a humanitarian trip to Cuanacaxtitlan (Cuana for short) and San Luis Acatlan in Guerrero, Mexico. We stayed in Cuana which is a tiny village about 4 hours east of Acapulco in the middle of the mountains. It was a great trip, I worked my butt off and the people there were amazing. We lived at the church in Cuana which probably had the best facilities in town but still no hot water. HOWEVER... the 2 ladies that came in to cook for us everyday more than made up for the lack of hot showers (sorta). The food they made was simple, filling, 10 times better than any Mexican restaurant I've been to and out of this world fantastic! One of the dishes they made was a traditional Pozole Verde. It was a special dish they made for the priest's birthday. They told me that Pozole is a traditional dish that dates back to Aztec times. There are different variations all over Mexico and the Pozole Verde they made is most common to the state of Guerrero where we were. They also said that it's the type of dish that everyone and their grandmother has their own variation too! The pozole they made was green (obviously) with chicken and pozole corn (hominy to you and me). I also saw pumpkin seeds and poblano peppers in the kitchen at some point during the day.
When I got home, I decided that I was going to try and make this ambitious dish. I knew it took a long time to make and was pretty labor intensive. Be ready... this takes about 4 hours. I found a couple recipes online... one that Mindy was kind enough to translate for me complete with "head of a hog". I opted for Emeril's recipe on Foodnetwork.com for a couple reasons. 1) It was in English. 2) I didn't have to convert the metric system. 3) It had the pumpkin seeds, which none of the other recipes had, and similar garnishes to what we were served.
Here's what you'll need...
1-lb lean pork shoulder roast
1/2 chicken, cut in pieces
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
5 stems cilantro
4 ounces hulled, untoasted, pumpkin seeds
1/2-lb fresh tomatillos
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh hot chili (Serrano or jalapeno) stem removed and coarsely chopped.
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbs lard or vegetable oil
2 (29-oz) cans of hominy, drained
Diced red onion
Dried oregano or finely chopped cilantro leaves
Fried pork rinds, crumbled
Fried tortilla strips
*** Most people know that I can't leave a recipe alone and I almost always change it. Here's what I did to this one...
Pork loin roast instead of pork shoulder roast (more lean... I hate fat)
Fresh oregano instead of cilantro (I hate cilantro)
I used a jalapeno but I remember the cooks using poblanos... although they were making it for WAY more people than I was!
There's a "can vs dried hominy" debate online. I suppose the dried would probably taste better but I've never cooked with either and well... if canned is good enough for Emeril, then it's good enough for me.
Fried pork rinds are gross.
1) In a large soup pot put 3 quarts of water, the pork shoulder, chicken, quartered onion, smashed garlic and cilantro stems and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that rises to the surface, partially cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until pork is very tender and the stock is flavorful.
2) While the meat is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until all of the seeds have popped and turned golden (3-4 min). Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
3) Place tomatillos in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1-inch. Add 1 tsp of the salt and cook over medium heat until the tomatillos are tender, about 10-min. Strain tomatillos and discard the cooking liquid. Place the tomatillos in the jar of a blender or food processor along with the pumpkin seeds, green chili and chopped onion. Add 1/3 cup of the pork cooking liquid and blend until VERY smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve and discard the solids.
4) In a skillet over medium high heat, add the oil or lard. When hot, add the puree and cook, stirring constantly for about 7 minutes or until the color has darkened and the mixture has thickened considerably. Remove from the heat.
5) When the pork is very tender, strain the stock. Set the meat and chicken aside. Discard other solids. Return the stock to the soup pot, add the tomatillo-pumpkin seed mixture and the hominy and return to a gentle simmer. cook for about 1 hour, stirring frequently until slightly thickened and flavorful. When the meat and chicken are cool enough to handle, discard any bones and shred into bite size pieces. Add meat to the soup pot and season with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp of salt. (I also added some black pepper and dried oregano.)
6) Serve the pozole in shallow bowls and allow guest to garnish their soup with condiments of their own choosing.
*** It's not exactly like what I had in Mexico but it comes real close! Enjoy!!!