Legend has it that back in the days of pre-Columbian Mexico, the meat bobbing in a broth of giant lime-slaked kernels of pozole (better known here as hominy) was of, let's just say, a rather intimately known species on the planet. I am neither an anthropologist nor archeologist, but after researching some pozole recipes, the general consensus is that this amazingly flavored soupy stew has more recently been traditionally prepared with pork. Well, a ham hock doesn't have any better appeal to me than leg of Uncle Waldo. In fact, the last time I prepared a pork meal was probably just about the time of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica. I did not, however, want to be cheated out of what all the raving pozole fuss was about that I'd been reading over the last few years.
I can now enthusiastically gush with the rest of you. This recipe is the very sloppy, gut-bursting result of too much tinkering over the past two days. A meat-free diet does not necessarily mean you won't have a big mess to clean up in the kitchen (I had so much vegetable debris that I could have sold it by the bale for compost), but it does mean that with some relatively easy engineering, you can eat well without missing out on good flavor and health. And I'm not pulling anyone's leg.
Tomatillos, the sour, pulpy fruit, generally essential to green-based pozole.
Pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds).
Small Red Beans, not to be confused with Asian azuki beans,
are commonly used in Latin and American recipes.
Pork-Free Pozole with Red Beans (My own vegetarian/vegan-convertible recipe adapted from elements among several dozens found online, such as Posole Verde, Pozole, and Authentic Mexican Pozole.)
6 cups salted vegetable broth
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and stem cores nicked out with a sharp knife
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas, ground in a food processor to a fine meal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup dark olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried epazote
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 2-inch green serrano chile peppers, stems removed, then sliced into coins with seeds intact
3 cups cooked beans (any variety), drained and rinsed of starch residue (I used small red Latin beans for color contrast.)
3 cups cooked pozole, drained (I used canned. Preparing dried pozole takes at least 6 hours to soak, and another 3 hours to cook.)
Garnishes (use any or all of them)
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
4 cups fried corn tortilla strips (method here) or broken tortilla chips
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas
1 small white onion, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cubed right before serving
2 cups grated cheese, such as Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Monterey Jack and/or Cheddar (omit if you are vegan)
1 large lime, cut into wedges
In a very large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook tomatillos in broth until they are soft (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a blender container. Carefully secure cover to prevent spattering, and blend to liquefy tomatillos. Return contents to saucepan, then stir in ground pepitas. Reserve on back burner on the very lowest heat, just enough to keep it warm.
In a dry, medium skillet, toast ground cumin briefly on medium-low heat until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Pour in olive oil, then stir in Mexican oregano, epazote, onion, and garlic. Maintain heat, cooking vegetables until golden, translucent, and fragrant (about 12 minutes). Stir in serrano chile coins. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vegetable mixture to tomatillo stock. Increase saucepan heat to medium-low and simmer stock for 15 minutes. Stir in beans and pozole. Heat through (about 5 minutes). Divide soup into 4-6 bowls (depending on size), then layer and pile garnishes over top of each. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
This warm-as-sunshine recipe is going to lovely Lisa, hosting May's Mexican-inspired No Croutons Required, the popular and long-running vegetarian event co-founded by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes, featuring salad and soups attuned to different monthly themes. Lisa will have the round-up online in a few days, including an opportunity to vote for your favorite recipe.
Been There, Done That ~
Cannellini Bean Chili
Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa
Other People's Eats ~
(Final Note: Thanks to everyone for your well wishes as I recover from dental surgery. Please bear with me while I continue to juggle receipt and compilation of PPN recipes due tomorrow evening for round-up #164, in addition to welcoming your MLLA dishes. If I haven't yet visited your blogs to acknowledge and thank you for your contributions, please know that I'm just a day or two away from doing so. I must say that this month has been especially tormenting: all these gorgeous foods parading in front of my face, and I am relegated to pudding for the last week. You think you want to eat pudding all the time, until you have to. ; D)