Spicy Pozole Versus The (Un)Common Cold

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One of the things I really love about the hubby is his thoughtfulness and generosity. From special sundaes (vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate fudge, banana with Marcona almonds & Amarena cherries!) which magically appear in front of me before I even realize that I’m craving it to making sure we’re prepared for unpredictable eventualities when we’re traveling like switching in my bike seat on a rental to making sure our first aid kit is stocked to sharing everything including his pathogens cuz mi virus es su virus. Yup, the human Petri dish dear hubster is the spouse that keeps on giving. The house has been redolent with the sounds of sneezing, coughing, and sniffling. So what’s an achy, feverish invalid to do? Fight back with hot spicy soup of the Aztec gods. While pozole can contain different types of meats like pork, pork rinds, chicken, and even turkey, the combination of chilies and corn (maize or hominy) in a savory broth is always the delicious backdrop. And when your body’s burning through its liquid reserves making snot fighting viral invaders and mounting fevers, replenishing your fluids will not only make you feel better but also help you make more snot to fight off those nasty bugs. Seriously though, while water is good for you, when you’re trying to build back up your fluid reserves, water + electrolytes in the form of juice or broth makes it much easier to stock back up cuz your body can only absorb so much pure water at any given time so fluids with sodium (broth) or sugars (juice) allow the water to be easily absorbed passively, getting a free ride while your cells actively pump those electrolytes where they need to go. And this pozole gives you a dose of savory broth, yummy dry-cured pancetta, tender pork, fiery heat, tangy citrus, and chewy starchy hominy with added textural crunch from the raw, slightly sweet cabbage and crispety salty tortilla chips. Who am I kidding? This hits the spot when my temperature’s 98.6F too🙂

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As easy as it gets… Not really much to say, it’s just that easy.
Okay, it you have an 落とし蓋 otoshibuta or drop lid, you can make all that simmering just that much easier.

Ingredients
20-30 dried mild chili peppers like guajillo or ancho (I use the bright red arbol ones cuz I like to cry in my soup ;))
1/2 c warm water
2 oz pancetta, diced
2 lbs country-style boneless ribs or pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed and in 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10-2 c water
4 tsp (4 cloves) crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
29-oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cabbage, julienned
2-3 limes, quartered
2 c tortilla chips, optional

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With a small, sharp knife like a paring or utility knife, slit chilies in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and cut out veins. If you like your pozole really spicy, cut out only half the veins as the seeds and veins are where that spicy capsicum hangs out.

In a small bowl or cup, soak chili pods with 1/2 c warm water till softened ~20-30 minutes.

Season pork with salt and freshly ground pepper.

While chilies are soaking, in a large ~5 quart pot brown pancetta over medium heat till fat is rendered ~7-10 minutes. Remove pancetta and set aside. Using a paper towel and tongs, blot out excess oil till only 1-2 tsp remain. Increase heat to med-hi and brown pork cubes ~3-4 minutes per side. Depending on the size of your pot you will probably need to do this in 2 batches to keep from crowding the pot and steaming instead of browning the meat. Add enough water to cover the meat by 1-2 inches (~10-2 cups) and bring to a boil then skim off any accumulated fat and foam. Reduce heat to maintain a brisk simmer.

In a blender or food processor, purée chili pods and soaking liquid.

Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, hominy and puréed chilies and cover with otoshibuta, if using. Simmer till meat is tender and easily pierced with a fork or chopstick. Serve with juice from 1-2 quarters lime, cabbage, and some crushed tortilla chips. I like to add my chips as I go to keep them crispy/cut back on the mush factor. Makes main course 6 servings.

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**Seriously, this nutrition infographic is mainly a guideline cuz I have no idea why it thinks this recipe has over 100% of the RDA for sodium in 1 serving. I doubt the entire pot has that much sodium. I suspect the calorie count and fat content are also reduced since most of the fat from the pancetta has been blotted out.

About Cam

Enjoying the hippie life in Portlandia :)

9 comments

  1. Sounds delightful on a cold day. We just came back recently from a week’s stay in Mexico and stopped by a little hole in the wall restaurant ( Dona Raquel’s) where they only serve 2 things : Pozole during the week and Menudo on the weekends.
    Don’t the hot chilies irritate your throat when you have a bad cold or flu ?
    By the way , you had better be done with the pestilence by this weekend ; Typhoid Mary types are not welcome on vacation!

    • Cam

      Menudo, scary from a gastronomic and acoustic standpoint.

      I think I’m so numb from being woozy and with a layer of mucous coating everything, I need the extra heat to be able to taste anything. On the bright side, the chilies help clear up your sinuses.

      Typhoid Mary, huh? I’m no longer infectious but just in case, I’ll make sure to lick all the spoons before you arrive😀

  2. OMG! You had me laughing out loud!!! Your human petri dish that keeps on giving? TOO much! lol I’ve actually never had Pozole but it really does sound good right now because it turns out that I’m the human petri dish in my house right now. Yep. My body’s busy using up it’s fluid to make snot! lmao Thanks for this entertaining post and for sharing the recipe!

    • Cam

      Ah, my commiserations. It’s tiring being a snot factory, isn’t it? Hopefully your dear hubster has a pot of liquidy goodness with your name on it. I’m sending you pozole through the Ethernet as we speak😉

  3. I’ve never been one to mind living alone. In fact I pretty much prefer it. Still the only time I’ll ever complain about my living situation is when I’m ill. There is simply no one handy to blame for my predicament and it is infuriating! Although our soups may differ in content, we agree in philosophy: drown the virus with good stock and all will be well very soon. I like everything in your soup but am a tad fearful of the chiles. I’d have to tread lightly.

    • Cam

      Not to worry, that’s where imaginary friends come in, just blame Harvey the rabbit, lol. I must it is nice to have someone to be whiny to when you’re not at your best, although I would think that your pooch, man’s best unconditional buddy, would be great for snuggling and grousing with🙂

      You know, I’ve always thought that roasting a red bell pepper, removing the blistered skin and then puréeing it would give you that pepper flavor without all the heat and you get the added bonus of the sweetness. Hmm. The problem with me using the spicier arbol chilies is that I can only put in so many otherwise it would be painfully inedible so I don’t get much of that vibrant red color. Now I want to tinker. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I love pozole! Luckily I have a retired chef in the family…my dad! I will give this one a whirl myself. Thanks for the lovely post…

    • Cam

      You lucky duck, hopefully “retired” in your dad’s case translates into “having free time to do gastronomic experiments on hungry family members.”😉

      At first I thought I was going into porky overload with the pancetta until I realized that they’re just a more savory version of pork rinds. Would love to know what you think of it. Hope you enjoy it🙂

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