A Hearty Southwestern Pork Stew, New Mexican Posole is a Tradition for Christmas
If you have ever visited Albuquerque Old Town Plaza on Christmas eve, it’s quite an enchanting experience! It’s a tradition in my family, and for many others as well. There you’ll find luminarias lining every sidewalk, adobe wall, and rooftop. A live nativity is displayed, including stable animals. Live music is performed on street corners while people file in and out of all the gift shops and restaurants that line the plaza. A huge Christmas tree made from smaller trees (you have to see it to believe it) glitters in the night. There are adobe alleyways paved with saltillo tile that lead to charming courtyards off the beaten path. Christmas lights and chili ristras are everywhere. I love to wander around with steaming hot cocoa in my hands, just enjoying the atmosphere. And most important of all, I always stop to eat a bowl of New Mexican Posole (Hominy-Pork Stew made with red chile) to warm me from the inside out.
New Mexican Posole is a mix of Native American and Hispanic flavors that pops up around the holidays. You’ll love this recipe even if you’ve never had a hot bowl of Posole before. Plus there are a few techniques in this recipe that really help to squeeze every ounce of incredible flavor from these fabulous ingredients.
Traditional Posole is made with water, but we’re going to replace that with chicken broth, which is a no-brainer for flavor. I’ve learned that replacing water with chicken broth can make a HUGE difference with almost every recipe I cook. It adds tons of yummy flavor. The pork in this recipe is browned on all sides before cooking in the broth (remember color = flavor) and the Hominy is also cooked a bit in the pork fat, enhancing the great corn taste. The chiles called for in this recipe (Ancho) are the dried chile pods of Poblano chiles. This isn’t a spicy stew, so if you’re worried about your mouth catching on fire, worry no more. They are quite mild as far as chiles go and can be found in most supermarkets in the Mexican food aisle. Look for them hanging in clear bags. Also, take note to remember to discard all fat from the meat as you’re shredding it. It’s really un-appealing to have any chewy pieces of pork fat in this stew. And don’t forget to remove the fat/grease that rises to the top when you are at the last step in the recipe. That can also be rather un-appealing.
You can garnish the stew with a mix of chopped avocado, radish, and cabbage, but I like mine just the way it is, served with fresh tortillas on the side. Enjoy!