Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I have had everything I need to make posole since 2 weeks ago. I picked up a package of dried hominy and some chorizo (which has been in the freezer). Oddly enough, the hominy package doesn’t say anything about soaking the corn before cooking. So I just put it on the stove. The package also does not tell you how long it will take to cook the hominy. A couple of recipes on the web say 2-4 hours. What the hey, I’m not in any hurry.

Traditionally posole can be made without meat, but not in my house. The chorizo I have is not a salty variety. If you use chorizo instead of pork cubes, cook a little piece of it in the microwave to ascertain its saltiness. Salt your posole accordingly.

It seems to me that the greatest difference between posole and menudo is whether or not it has tripe in it. Therefore I suspect that if you order one or the other in a Mexican restaurant you will get the same soup with tripe or without.

When I had everything cooked and combined I put in more salt, pepper. I was pleased with the taste but for one thing. The top notes, the spice, were there and not overwhelming at all. The bass notes, hominy and chorizo, were substantial. But something was missing in the middle. I think it was what is called umami, that flavor component that complements the usual list of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

The earthiness of mushrooms is probably the best definition of umami. It may surprise you to learn that I filled in that middle flavor by the addition of Chinese black vinegar. It doesn’t taste much like the vinegar we are more familiar with. It’s something like a slightly sweet balsamic.

2 cups dried hominy
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
½ lb chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped, divided
1 dried pasilla pepper
1 “hot” Hatch chile or 2 “mild”, roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Chinese black vinegar
cilantro, chopped

Cook hominy in stock and water until kernels start to burst. Because there was no directive on the package to soak it, I let it simmer for nearly 4 hours. That did the trick. A pressure cooker would speed this up quite a bit.

Sauté ½ the onion, garlic and chorizo until the pork is completely cooked – about 6 minutes.

Reconstitute the pasilla pepper in warm water for 30-60 minutes. Remove seeds. Place in food processor with Hatch chile(s) and puree with the water it was re-hydrated in.

Combine all ingredients, add salt, pepper and oregano to taste, and simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add a couple of tablespoons of black vinegar or balsamic. Do this judiciously so that it doesn’t hijack the overall taste.

Serve with remaining chopped onion, oregano, and cilantro for garnishes.

For a free excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write to me at: scrout1944@msn.com.

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