Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Cooking Project: Pozole (Rojo or Verde?)

Pozole (along with cassoulet) is one of the first dishes I made as I started to learn to cook a few years ago. Now, I'm a pretty big fan of Mexican food (there was a period of my mid twenties where I probably averaged a burrito a day), but I had never had pozole before I made it. Never even heard of it.  So obviously, I didn't know what it was "supposed" to taste like, but I found it to be a woderfully spicy and hearty pork dish...  with the garnishes adding a nice crunch and freshness to the long simmered stew.  I thought it came out really well, and have been semi-obsessed ever since. Now, I look for it whenever we go to a Mexican resteraunt and have had it served everywhere from the pretty fancy Olé to one of our local burrito shops... and thus while not having a long tradition of pozole tasting, I still think I have some idea of how it's supposed to work. However, let's start with the Wikipedia definition:
It is made from hominy, with pork (or other meat), chili pepper, and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbagelettuce,oreganocilantroradishavocadolime juice, etc. There are a number of variations on pozole, including blanco (white or clear), verde (green), rojo (red),de frijol (with beans), and elopozole (sweet corn, squash, and chicken or pork meat).
I've made both verde and rojo versions of pozole, and hadn't heard of either de frijol or elopozole until I just looked it up. As I don't think I'm particularly ready to embark out into uncharted territory, I'm going to stick to what I (barely)know. Rojo and verde are polar opposites as you might expect... while you stew the pork in a fairly identical fashion in both, the former is tomatoes and dried chili based while the latter is all about tomatillos, cilantro, and fresh peppers. Rojo has the potential for deeper flavors and more complexity, I think... but it's Spring (even if it doesn't feel like it here in Boston) so I'm sort of drawn towards the verde. What may ultimately decide it is whether tomatillos are available at my local Shaws, since last time I checked, Whole Foods didn't mess with bone in picnic pork shoulders.

pozole rojo picture by flickr user edseloh, and pozole verde picture by flickr user antilo0p
used under a Creative Commons license