New Mexico’s comfort food
by Lucy Herrman © 2020
As the seasons change here in Taos, outdoor activities call for bundling up and bracing for the crisp conditions that are autumn and winter in the mountains. But everyone looks forward to enjoying the cooler days and cold nights by participating in all the invigorating nature-centric fun that Taos has to offer.
When you come home from biking, snowshoeing, skiing or hiking, it is awfully nice to have something waiting in the slow cooker. A hot dish warms the body and the soul, and caps that perfect day out in the mountains. As you walk in the door, an enticing aroma captivates and promises deliciousness to come. And if that dish is a favored comfort food, so much the better.
In New Mexico, one of our many comfort foods is posolé. Posolé is both an ingredient and a dish. The ingredient posolé has a unique corn flavor similar to corn tortillas. Also known as hominy, posolé is made of corn that has been specially treated to puff up. You can buy it dried or frozen, or even canned, in a pinch.
The dish, posolé, is a cross between a stew and a soup. Posolé stew is often made with pork or chicken, but a vegetarian version is popular, too. Savory ingredients like onions, garlic and red or green chile are what give posolé a zesty delectable flavor. Traditionally served at important occasions, such as birthdays or Christmas, nowadays posolé is also associated with casual gatherings of family and friends.
Posolé is a versatile dish. You can have it as your main course or serve it on the side like they do at Orlando’s New Mexican Café in El Prado. Either way, posolé is a piquant and enticing treat.
Coming home to a steaming bowl of posolé with pork and red chile after being gone for hours is comforting at multiple levels — the biggest being that it is already made and waiting for you. And nothing could be easier than cooking posolé. Throw the fixings into the slow cooker in the morning, and let them cook all day while you are out.
Once home, get out the bowls and invite everyone to garnish their serving of this satisfying fare with lime wedges, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, shredded cheese and cilantro. Be sure to offer some flour tortillas on the side for sopping up the juices.
This easy, hearty stew is one of New Mexico’s favorite dishes. Give the recipe below a try. Posolé just might become one of your favorites, too.
SLOW-COOKER POSOLÉ WITH PORK AND RED CHILE
2 pounds frozen posolé (hominy), defrosted
8 dried red New Mexico chiles
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch ground cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the red chile. Gently rinse and dry the chiles. Remove stems, seeds and membranes. Place in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Using a tongs, place the chiles into a blender. Add enough of the cooking water to make a smooth creamy pourable paste.
Add the pork to a slow cooker set on high. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then add the remaining ingredients to the cooker. Pour all the red chile sauce over the stew, and add water or broth so the liquid just covers the contents. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
Serve in bowls with lime wedges, chopped onions, cilantro and cheese for garnish.
Makes 8-12 servings.