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Pozole and faux-pozole

I’ve been making a modified pork pozole (posole) recipe for a couple years now, inspired in part by our favorite local Mexican restaurant, Muy Bueno (don’t let the name fool you, they’re terrific!).  There’s a few major varieties based on the base–white, red, and green–but I prefer a green, tomatillo and chili base. I’ve submitted pozole-ish  entries into the Art Department’s annual Chili Cook Off the last two years and folks have been clamoring for the recipes so here they come, first a tangy twist on the traditional with pork, the second a gluten free, vegan option.


FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a white guy from Iowa who has put these recipes together by taste, so let me be the first to say this isn’t authentic! That said, I have almost 14 years experience working in professional kitchens, so I’ve been able to make some pretty well-educated guesses. Also, not for nothing, our Mexican American university president fully endorses the vegan version and I’m putting this post together because he wants these recipes.

All right, here goes:

Pork Pozole Verde

For the pork:

  • 2-3 lbs of pork (I prefer a ~5lb Boston butt and use what’s left for other meals, but it’s up to you)
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 2-3 limes juiced, then toss the peels in too
  • 4-6 T garlic powder
  • 4 T kosher salt
  • Pepper it to taste

—There’s lots of variations possible here. For example if I have lemongrass on hand I’ll substitute 3 stalks for the citrus to reserve my limes for later. When I made this yesterday I also covered the pork with smoked paprika and toasted cumin. This muddied the green color of the finished soup, but it added to the flavor profile.—

  1. Cover the pork with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place it in a crock pot. Add the peeled garlic (I like to add a second bulb, still in the husks, to stew in the juices as a snack for later) and the citrus. Cover the pork half way with water and slow cook on low (~300F) for 4-5 hours. Flip the meat halfway through cooking.
  2.  Set meat aside to cool. Strain veggies from the remainder and refrigerate till the fat separates from the broth. You should have 3-4 quarts of broth to work with for later.

For the base:

  1. Cook 2lbs quartered tomatillos in a hot, ungreased, preferably cast iron skillet till charred on all sides.
  2. Chop 1 large yellow onion and 5-6 cloves of garlic. Sauteé in olive oil with 1T cumin seeds till veggies are clear.
  3. Add 1-2 minced habenero peppers (substitute 2 cans of green chilis if you’re looking for a milder solution)
  4. Place all these ingredients in a food processor (may take a couple batches) with 1 full bunch of cilantro and 3/4 c lime juice (5-6 limes). Blend till incorporated.

—I have sometimes also blend 1 1/2- 2 c hominy and 5-6 radishes to thicken the base and reinforce the flavors. I’d recommend this if your audience is looking for an American-style chili, not necessary for folks who know what they’re getting into.—


To finish:

  1. Skim fat from the cooled broth. Add broth, the tomatillo concoction, and 5 c hominy (or 2, 15oz cans) to the crockpot or large sauce pot.
  2. Shred the cooled pork and add to the pot.
  3. Add enough water to the mixture to yield a total of about 2 gallons of soup. Cook on high for one hour.
  4. Serve hot with cilantro, lime wedges, and sliced radishes as optional additions per the taste of the audience. Cabbage provides a great, crisp contrast, too.

The batch last night was served with mofongo relleno, a Puerto Rican plantain-based dish, so it wasn’t culturally consistent, but the flavors definitely jive. Bottom line, we don’t get green plantains locally that often, or for very long, so when they’re available you get them and make the meal work!




Faux Pozole –or–Gabacho Pozole  Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Totally Bastardized

**But first, a note on Gluten-Free:

If you read food packaging today you may notice blurbs saying something like, “this product may have been manufactured in a facility that contains some wheat”. This may seem unnecessary to you…unless you are gluten intolerant. Despite the cultural backlash with claims to the contrary, some people–those with Celiac disease–will become extremely ill if exposed to gluten. My mother-in-law for example, gets painful blisters in her mouth, stomach cramps, and lower digestive issues because the protein in gluten is literally eating away the lining of her intestines. That’s no joke. So please, if you say you’re going to make something gluten free for a friend or family member be sure to thoroughly clean all your tools and surfaces, and avoid using wooden cutting boards or cast iron cook ware that may have absorbed gluten over time. And wash hands after handling wheaty stuff before going back to GF dishes. Again, if you don’t have these issues these steps may seem outlandish, but isn’t it worth it protect your loved ones (or at least not have to hear them complain later)?

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cups dry black eyed peas (later rinsed, soaked, and cooked till slightly chewy)

2 lbs tomatillos

1 large red onion, rough chopped

1 habenero pepper, minced

1 large bunch of cilantro

3-4 cloves of garlic

3/4 c lime juice

1/4 red wine vinegar

1 1/2 t cumin

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 cup raw red onion, diced

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 quarts vegetable broth (make it from the veggie scraps and any others you may have on hand)

6 cups water


  1. Peel all vegetables. Use scraps plus any other veggie bits you have on hand to make the vegetable broth. In our Instant Pot I can just use the broth preset and get the veggie equivalent of bone broth (dark, rich, condensed flavors) in around an hour. We always have broth on hand for this as well.
  2.  Rinse, soak, and cook the black eyed peas till slightly chewy. They will finish cooking when the soup is incorporated.
  3. Set beans and broth aside to cool.

For the Base:

  1. Cook quartered tomatillos in a hot, ungreased, pan till charred on all sides.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Sauteé in olive oil with 1T cumin seeds till veggies are clear.
  3. Add 1-2 minced habenero peppers (substitute 2 cans of green chilis if you’re looking for a milder solution)
  4. Place all these ingredients in a food processor (may take a couple batches) with cilantro, vinegar, and lime juice. Blend till incorporated.

To Finish:

  1. Add broth, water, base, and beans to a large sauce pot.
  2. Add remaining veggies–the sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, and carrots.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes or until all veggies are al dente.
  5. Add another 1/2 c chopped cilantro. Serve with radishes and lime wedges.


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