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Friday, October 28, 2011

Where the Wild (Green) Things Are


From my Michigan kitchen to yours . . . Mexican-Style Green Chile Posole

In the never-ending search for the best of the best in chili recipes in all their glory, I set out on the internet this week in search of the holy grail of posole.
Posole -- for those Midwesterners who would have no idea -- is a Mexican soup, traditionally made with pork, roasted green chiles (ideally of Hatch variety) and posole blanco-  white hominy.  Do not mistake the hominy for grits (as in fab Southern-style cooking with shrimp in a recipe I’ll savor for another day). Posole is a lime-infused white corn, that requires a good soaking overnight or at least 2 hours of boiling. You can find posole canned or a frozen - but for best results start from scratch, nothing out of a can.  
The recipe, itself, is a snap, but requires that you take your time. So save it for a lazy (“Fall Back”) Sunday,  when you can fully appreciate the curious mingling of flavors and pungent cooking aromas of lime, toasted corn, onion and braised pork, all wafting through the 
kitchen.  




The result? Well worth the hunt for the wild greens on my list of ingredients, as well as the extra trip to the little Mexican grocery which I happened to discover hidden just past the Big House (U of M stadium)in Ann Arbor.

From the Westborn Market in Dearborn, I brought home the bacon (figuratively). The recipe calls for a pork shoulder or butt steak, a cut of meat with enough fat to break down in cooking to a fine stew meat, as in pulled-pork. Use fresh cilantro, plenty of tomatillos - and if Hatch chiles are not readily found in your area - choose a variety of poblano, anaheim and jalapeno. 


Oh, yes, and one last ingredient that kicks it up another notch: find yourself some Mexican oregano.  Not at all like the Italian - Mexican oregano is both sweet and surprisingly spicy.  


1 pound pork butt or other pork stew meat, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried posole (substitute frozen or canned if you must)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound fresh tomatillos
3 limes juiced
4 New Mexico Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and diced
(substitute 2 poblano, 1 jalapeno and 1 anaheim) 
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried chipotle pepper
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp ground corriander
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon salt or to taste
Options for thickening the stew: add 2 cups summer squash or 2 cups chopped nopales cactus paddles, 1/4 cup cornmeal. 
Garnish options: 
sliced avocado
chopped cilantro
grated white cheddar cheese
sour cream
lime wedges
chopped onion
tortilla chips

Method
  1. Soak dried posole in 8 cups of water overnight, or boil for at least two hours to soften
  2. Peel and scrub tomatillos and chop.  In a saucepan, heat chicken stock, add tomatillos and minced garlic, cook until tomatillos are softened
  3. Grill or roast peppers in oven or “blacken” them quickly over gas flame on stovetop. Let peppers cool, chop remove seeds
  4. In a food processor, combine cooled tomatillos and peppers (reserving liquid for stew)
  5. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute pork and onions, with juice of 1 lime stirring until just meat is browned on both sides, and onions are carmelized. 
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low; add stock, tomatillos and peppers. Stir in cumin and coriander, stirring until fragrant, about a minute. Bring to a simmer over high heat, add hominy, oregano, pepper and salt; return to a simmer. 
  7. Let simmer for at least two hours until the meat is tender and the posole kernels have softened or have just begun to open, like little flowers. 
  8. Serve with your choice of garnishes
"And now," cried Mason, "let the rumpus start
with mandelbrot!"


Okay, he’s much too young for posole, but his is the one little mouth to feed that now inspires my cooking like a wild thing, a “grandma in the night kitchen.” 




His mom knew exactly what she was doing to buy him that first Halloween costume, so fetching in dragon green -- offering us endless grandparental entertainment and many splendid photo opportunities.  



In my eyes, he looks the very image of a Sendak attack -  right out of the pages of my favorite children's books. 



Photos: VHenoch
Happy Halloween and thanks for stopping by




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