Pozole Rojo, a quintessential Mexican stew, embodies the spirit of traditional Mexican cuisine with its rich flavors and heartwarming qualities. This celebrated dish is not just a culinary delight, but a vibrant expression of Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.
Originating from the ancient Aztec civilization, Pozole is a symphony of robust ingredients and intricate flavors, deeply rooted in history and tradition.
We have cooked some cracking Mexican flavors in the past. Birria Stew, Carne Adovada, Chile Verde, Caldo de Pollo, and Caldo de Res are some of the huge classics hailing from this vibrant and bold cuisine.
Today’s dish has been on our wish list for a long time, and we were very pleased with the flavor, and the love and warmth it brings to the table.
In this classic recipe, tender pork and hominy are simmered in a fragrant broth seasoned with aromatic spices and mild chilis. This creates a perfect balance of robust flavors and hearty textures. The stew is then topped with an array of fresh, crunchy, and zesty garnishes.
Pozole is more than a dish. It’s a celebration of family, community, and the enduring legacy of Mexican culinary artistry. Whether served at festive gatherings like Christmas, New Year’s, or just as a comforting family Sunday dinner, Pozole offers a warm embrace in every spoonful.
We Love Pozole For:
- Complex Flavors: The blend of spices, herbs, and chilies creates a depth of flavor that is both complex and delightful.
- Hearty and Filling: With its combination of meat and hominy, Pozole is a substantial and satisfying dish, perfect for hearty appetites.
- Rich Historical Significance: Pozole is steeped in history, tracing back to pre-Columbian times. Its deep roots in Mexican culture give it a sense of tradition and nostalgia, making it more than just a meal.
- Customizable Toppings: The ability to add various toppings like shredded cabbage, radishes, onions, lime, and cilantro allows everyone to personalize their bowl to their taste.
- Communal and Festive: Often served at gatherings and celebrations, Pozole is a communal dish that brings people together.
- Comforting Quality: The warm, savory broth and tender ingredients make Pozole a comfort food that is particularly cherished during colder months.
What is Pozole Rojo?
Pozole, pronounced “poh-SOH-leh”, is a traditional Mexican stew made with hominy, meat (typically pork), and often flavored with a variety of chilis and spices, served with assorted fresh toppings.
The name “Pozole” originates from the Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples in central Mexico) word “pozolli,” meaning “foam,” referring to the foam formed when the corn is boiled.
The classic types of Pozole are known as Pozole Rojo (with a red sauce made from chilies), Pozole Verde (green, made with green chilies and tomatillos), and Pozole Blanco (a simpler version without the added sauce of red or green varieties).
Pozole Rojo, specifically, gets its distinctive red color from a blend of dried red chilies.
These chilies are rehydrated, blended, and then strained to create a smooth, flavorful sauce that is then added to the broth. This not only adds a vibrant color, but also adds a depth of mild spicy and smoky flavor.
The base ingredient, hominy, is corn that has undergone a process known as nixtamalization, where it is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, and then hulled. This process, developed by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, not only enhances the nutritional value of the corn but also gives it a unique flavor and texture.
In terms of meat, Pozole typically uses pork, although chicken can also be used. The use of pork came after the Spanish conquest, as pork was introduced to the Americas by the Europeans. The incorporation of pork and the adaptation of the dish over time reflect the fusion of indigenous and Spanish influences in Mexican cuisine.
What Cut of Pork is Traditionally Used?
Pork shoulder, or pork butt, is our top choice due to its rich fat marbling. As it cooks slowly, this fat renders into the broth, infusing it with a savory depth and creating meat that is tender and easily shreddable.
Another common addition is pork neck bones, which enrich the broth with their deep flavor and collagen content. This collagen releases during the cooking process, enhancing the broth’s body, giving it a richer texture.
Country-style ribs or spare ribs are also great choices.
Pork feet are also often incorporated in traditional Pozole recipes. While not the primary source of meat, these trotters are prized for their gelatin, which adds a silky and rich texture to the broth.
- Pork: Today we are using pork shoulder and pork neck bones for this classic Mexican stew.
- Hominy: We use canned hominy for convenience. You can substitute with one pound of dried, but note that it will need to be soaked overnight and will take longer to cook.
- Onions and Garlic: Standard aromatics.
- Dried Chilis (Guajillo and Ancho): Crucial for Pozole Rojo, imparting a vibrant color and a complex, mildly spicy flavor. You can find the dried chilies in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store or online. Guajillo and ancho chilies are not very spicy. For spicier pozole, add 3-5 árbol chilis.
- Spices (Bay leaves, Oregano, Cumin, Black Pepper): Each adds its own character – oregano for earthiness, cumin for warmth, bay leaves for subtle, herbal flavor and black pepper for a little heat. If you can find Mexican oregano, we recommend that, but regular oregano will work too.
- Chicken Bouillon: Enhances the savory depth of the broth.
- Corn Tortillas (Our Special, Unique Ingredient): Used to thicken the chili sauce, adding a hint of corn flavor.
- Toppings (Shredded Cabbage, Radishes, Lime, Onion, Avocado, Cilantro): Fresh toppings that add crunch, flavor, and freshness, balancing the rich and hearty stew.
- Serving Options: Pozole is typically served with warm corn tortillas or Mexican rice as accompaniments.
1. Cook the Pork: Bring 12 cups of water to a boil with 2 tsp salt. Add pork chunks and bones. Simmer, skimming off the foam until you get the clear broth. (About 10-15 minutes)
2. Add Aromatics to Pork: Add mashed garlic cloves, quartered onion, cumin, oregano, chicken bouillon, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours. While it cooks, check out our collection of favorite Mexican recipes!
3. Prepare Chilis: Boil guajillo and ancho chilis for 3-4 minutes. Let them rehydrate for 20-30 minutes in hot water.
4. Make Chili Sauce: Blend rehydrated chilis, onion, garlic cloves, salt, torn corn tortillas, and some of the chili soaking broth until smooth.
5. Shred the Cooked Pork: Remove pork from broth, shred it, and discard bones and bay leaves.
6. Combine and Cook: Strain chili sauce into the broth. Add shredded pork and drained white hominy. Cook for 30-40 minutes. Adjust salt and bouillon to taste.
7. Serve: Ladle Pozole into bowls, making sure you get a good mix of pork and hominy. Top with shredded cabbage, diced onions, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, and lime wedges. Serve with warm corn tortillas or Mexican rice.
- Properly Prepare the Chilis: Ensure that you remove all the seeds and stems from the chilis. Soak them enough to get a smooth puree, as this forms the flavor base of your Pozole.
- Skim the Broth: Skimming off the foam and impurities from the broth is crucial for a clear, clean-tasting soup.
- Use a Fine-Mesh Strainer: When adding the chili sauce to the broth, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother texture.
- Don’t Rush the Cooking Process: The flavors in Pozole develop and deepen over time. Don’t rush the cooking process, let the stew simmer to develop its full flavor.
- Shredding the Pork: Shred the pork into bite-sized pieces, not too small, as they continue to break down slightly in the cooking process.
- Balance the Flavors: Adjust the spices and seasonings as you cook. Taste and tweak the levels of salt, cumin, and oregano to suit your preference.
Pozole Rojo, Verde, Blanco: The three classic types of Pozole. Rojo uses red chilis, Verde is made with green chilis and tomatillos, and Blanco is a simpler version without added chili sauce.
Meat Variations: While pork is traditional, chicken or beef can be used. For a vegetarian version, mushrooms or beans can replace meat.
Seafood Pozole: A coastal twist, replace traditional meat with shrimp, fish, or other seafood.
Spicier Version: Add chile de árbol to the chili mix.
Leftovers and Storing
Pozole is excellent as leftovers, like any other stew, as all the flavors enhance as it sits for a few days. Allow the Pozole to cool to room temperature before storing, but don’t leave it out for more than two hours to avoid bacterial growth.
Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator. It stays good for up to 3-4 days. It also freezes well. Portion it into freezer-safe containers, leaving some space for expansion. It can be stored frozen for up to 2-3 months.
Reheat refrigerated Pozole on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. For frozen Pozole, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. When reheating, you might need to add a bit of water or broth if the Pozole has thickened in storage. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
There you go, one more iconic dish from Mexico, cooked to perfection in our GypsyPlate kitchen. Pozole is a perfect dish for gathering around the table, sharing stories, and enjoying good company.
Make a big pot and share this culinary gem from south of the border with your friends and family.
Pozole Rojo, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into large chunks
- 2.5 pounds pork neck bones (you can sub with country style ribs or spare ribs)
- 1.25 medium onion, cut into quarters, divided
- 4 bay leaves
- 12 large garlic cloves, divided
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Mexican or regular oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp pepper
- 6 guajillo chilis, stems and seeds removed
- 6 ancho chilis, stems and seeds removed
- 2 corn tortillas
- 2 25oz cans white hominy, drained
- cabbage, thinly shredded
- yellow or white onion, diced
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- lime wedges
- radishes, thinly sliced
- avocado (optional)
- warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving
- Bring 12 cups of water, along with 2 tsp salt, to a boil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the pork shoulder chunks and neck bones to the boiling water (all the pork should be submerged in the water), and let it simmer. Skim any foam and impurities off the top until you get the clear broth. (This will take about 10-15 minutes.)
- Add 10 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste, to the pot along with 1 quartered onion, oregano, cumin, chicken bouillon, and black pepper. Simmer, covered, for 1.5 hours. Check periodically to make sure pork is submerged under water.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add chili peppers to the water. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow chilis to soak for 20-30 minutes.
- Place the rehydrated chilis, ¼ onion, 2 large garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 corn tortillas (torn) and 1½ cups chili soaking broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth.
- Once the pork is tender after simmering, take it out and shred it into chunks of your desired size. Discard the bones. Remove bay leaves and any onion remnants from the broth.
- Add the prepared chili sauce to the broth. (We like to strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into the pot for smoother pozole). Add shredded pork back into the pot along with drained hominy, and cook for 30-40 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt or chicken bouillon.
- Ladle the pozole into the bowls, making sure each bowl has both types of pork meat. Top with all the garnishes and serve with with lime wedges and warm corn tortillas or Mexican rice.
- Pork: This recipe is great for up to 5lbs of pork. You can use other pork cuts as well. Pork ribs or feet go great in pozole.
- Chilies: You can find the dried chilies in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store, or online. Guajillo and ancho chilies are not very spicy. For spicier pozole, add 3-5 arbol chilis into the mix. In some variations, tomatoes are blended along with the chilis.
- For clearer pozole, skim off the impurities until you have a clear broth in the beginning.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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