Enrique Olvera's pozole (with beans)
Deliciously comforting and nourishing, and fortified with hominy, chiles, and pork, it’s no wonder pozole is a celebratory dish all over Mexico. Here we feature Enrique Olvera’s pozole recipe, which is the real deal. His flagship eatery in Mexico City, Pujol, has repeatedly been recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world. We love his method of toasting the chiles and spices so that they are extra aromatic. At Primary Beans, we are deeply conscious about altering anything that is rooted in tradition, but we wanted to honor Mexican bean varieties that could work well in this dish. Beans create a pleasant sense of contrast to the chewy hominy and tender pork, and they also make it possible to reduce the amount of meat and keep the high protein content. If you can find dried hominy (aka nixtamalized corn, see note) rather than canned, use it. Like beans, cooking it from scratch gives you better flavor and texture compared to the canned counterpart.
- Serves: 8
- Time: 3 hours
- Cookware: large pot, medium pot or electric pressure cooker, bean cooking vessel of your choice, cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, blender or food processor
What you’ll need
- 1 lb dried beans (makes ~7 cups cooked)
- Flavor with: 1-2 tbsp lard or neutral oil, 2 bay leaves, ½ large onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 guajillo or ancho chile
- 2 lbs pork shoulder ideally paired with some neck or other pork bones
- 1 large white onion, peeled and halved
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 lb dried white or yellow hominy, soaked in water 6-8 hours
- 5 guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
- 4 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
- 2 chiles de árbol
- 8 peppercorns
- 1-½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- ½ large onion, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
- Toppings: thinly sliced radishes, thinly sliced cabbage, chile powder, dried Mexican oregano, lime wedges
Cook the pork: In a large pot, combine pork, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt. Add water to cover by at least 4 inches. Bring to boil and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the meat falls off the bone, about 2 hours. Add more water if necessary to keep the meat generously covered, and periodically skim off any foam that surfaces. Strain the broth and reserve. Shred the meat and set aside.
Prepare the hominy: Meanwhile, in a medium pot combine drained pre-soaked hominy with water to cover by 2 inches, and boil until it blooms, ~1 hour. Add more water as necessary to keep covered. Alternatively, combine hominy and water in an electric pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Prepare the beans: Meanwhile, cook beans according to our guide in the cooking vessel of your choice. Set aside beans in their broth.
Make the chile mixture: Heat skillet over high heat. Add chiles and toast until aromatic, ~30 seconds per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with hot water to soak. Meanwhile, add peppercorns, cumin seeds, and oregano to the skillet and toast until fragrant, ~1 minute. Transfer to a blender. Place remaining onion and garlic cloves on the skillet and cook until charred, ~15 minutes. Add charred onion, garlic, and drained chiles to the blender. Blend to a puree using chile soaking water to thin if necessary. It should be watery.
Assemble the soup: In a large pot, heat oil over high heat and add the chile sauce. Stir until it turns orange, ~5 minutes. Stir in the pork broth and drained hominy. Stir in the desired amount beans with some of the bean broth and shredded pork. (Any remaining beans or pork make great leftovers.) Simmer until flavors meld, ~15 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve with toppings.
We imagine this with…
It’s a meal in and of itself, but to make it a dinner party: chips and guacamole with pomegranate seeds; green salad with persimmon, queso fresco, and toasted nuts.
NOTE: Nixtamalization is the process of soaking dried corn in an alkaline solution, which causes the kernels to swell, improves the nutritional profile, and brings out the flavor. The result: hominy.
Slightly adapted from Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook by Enrique Olvera (Phaidon Press, 2019).