Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Chipotle Pozole

From Wikipedia: Pozole (Nahuatl: pozolli), which means "foamy"; variant spellings: pozolé, pozolli, posole) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico, which once had ritual significance. It is made from nixtamalized corn, [Hominy] with meat, usually pork, chicken, turkey, pork rinds, chili peppers, and other seasonings and garnish...Since corn was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was made to be consumed on special occasions. The conjunction of corn (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mexicans believed the gods made humans out of masa (cornmeal dough)...It is a typical dish in various states such as Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos, México and Distrito Federal. Pozole is often served in Mexican restaurants in the American Southwest.

To celebrate autumn, I took this formerly special occasion stew, and combined it with another seasonal festive ingredient, pumpkin.  The spiciness of the stew, the smokiness of the chipotles and the sweetness of the pumpkin made a contrast that complimented the contrasts of textures between soft beans, tender pork, and al dente hominy.  Hominy is a kind of big, puffy, chewy corn, that tastes like a corn tortilla or tamale.  It has been treated, like masa, to release more nutrients, but I like it for the taste and texture.  You can find it either by the canned corn, or with the Mexican ingredients.  Either yellow or white will do.

Mirepoix of chopped celery, carrot & onion, about 1 carrot, 1 onion, and two ribs celery worth.
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 lbs cheap pork, like pork butt or country-style boneless ribs, cut in bite size chunks.
1 pie pumpkin
1 onion, diced
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 cans hominy
1 can pink beans
1 can chipotle in adobo, 1-2 peppers minced, sauce from can reserved
1 can chopped green chilis, rinsed
1 stick unsalted butter
chili powder
Mexican oregano
4 packets Sazon seasoning
salt & pepper

Cut pork into bite size chunks, approximately 1" cubes.  Toss with salt, chili powder, and oil.
Add additional oil to a large stock pot, and sweat the mirepoix with some salt over low heat.  When onions begin to turn translucent, add garlic, cook one more minute, then remove vegetables and set aside. 

Crank up heat, and brown the meat in batches, turning to brown evenly.  Add water, about a gallon, and return mirepoix and garlic to pot.  Add Sazon seasoning, minced chipotle peppers to taste, and all the adobo sauce you can get out of the can.   Wear disposable gloves to keep the capsaicin in check if you have them!  Simmer, covered, on very low heat until pork is very tender.  I let it go all night. 

Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve, remove pork to a container, and discard spent mirepoix.  Refregerate both pork and broth.  When a disk of fat solidifies and hardens on the surface of the broth, remove, and skim up any remaining droplets.

To finish, reheat broth, reducing at a boil if needed.  Add onion, green chilis, and simmer.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 °F.

Cut, scoop out, and peel outer rind from pumpkin.  This will take a while, unless you have a very good peeler, but you can do this ahead of time.  Cut into 1" chunks.  Melt the butter in large microwave-safe bowl, and add pumpkin, tossing to coat.  Toss with generous amounts of cinnamon, and a light sprinkling of chili powder.  Spread evenly on a cookie sheet covered in foil, and bake for 45 min to an hour, until soft, with a nice outer crust.

Meanwhile, add tomatoes, drained hominy, pork, and a few tsp Mexican oregano to the pot, and simmer.  When pumpkin is finished and cool enough to handle, add what you were able to keep from popping into your mouth into the pot.  Just before serving, add beans and heat through. On serving, sprinkle bowls with additional oregano, or give guests some on the side to sprinkle on their own. 


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  2. As Jamison just said..."WOW!" An edible tapestry of golden autumnal flavors and textures.