Monday, April 20, 2009

Vegan Pozole Rojo

Pozole is like chili with hominy. Although it's made throughout Mexico, I think of it as a Native American (Indian) dish. We opt to make it with the most exotic sounding ingredients we can like avocado leaves and such. It makes us feel very fancy and we get to talk to the nice ladies at the Latino produce market who have given me lot's of tips and recipes over the years. Pozole is traditionally made around Christmas time. It requires a ton of different chilis pulverized into a paste using a morter and pestle, chilis like guajillo, ancho and chili de arbol. Pozole can be made white (blanco), green (verde), red (rojo) with beans (de frijole) or with corn and squash (elopozole). Hominy is made by a process called nixtamalization. Traditionally this meant soaking corn in lye until the hull is gone and the germ is left. Nowadays limewater is used (calcium hydroxide). This is the same process used to make tamale masa so now you know that tamales are essentially made with dried ground hominy.

I'll tell you another little tidbit. Achiote is a strange little tree/shrub that grows like a weed all over the southwest straight through to South America. I first encountered it in the Ecuadorean rainforest (I know that sounds exotic doesn't it) where the natives use it to dye their hair. It wasn't til I returned to the states that I realized it's culinary uses. Achiote is the same thing as annato which is the dye used to make cheddar cheese orange. I use this to to give the Pozole a rich color. This is a good tip for a vibrant chili as well.

Another thing we do with the Pozole is a little pork substitution using Shitake mushroom stems. We shred the stems so that they look like shredded pork and then we soak them in a little liquid smoke (which is actually a natural thing. They basically just condense water in a smoker and viola, liquid smoke). This is a labor intensive ordeal but we think it's worth it.

I first got the idea to make Pozole from a cookbook I bought at the American Indian museum in DC where I also puchased some dried blue hominy which really ups the fancy factor.

I think next time I'll make a Pozole blanco.

4 Guajillo Chillis, rehydrated

5 Chilis de Arbol, rehydrated

2 Ancho Chilis, rehydrated

1 lb dried hominy, soaking in water

2 onions, diced

1 head of Garlic, cleaned

2 Avocado Leaves

2 T. dried Oregano

1 T. Achiote

1 T. Cumin

1 cup shredded mushroom stems soaking in a little soy sauce and a dash of liquid smoke

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Vegetable Stock

Start by cooking the hominy in a big pot with the onions, salt, oregano, avocado leaf and cumin. Cover the hominy with just enough veggie stock to cover it. It may take at least 30 minutes for them to start getting soft. You can add small amounts of stock as needed but I like my pozole thick.

In the mean time grind up all of your chilis in a chop chop with the garlic. When the pozole is soft, add the chili mix and continue to cook. It should take about an hour from start to finish. When the hominy is done it will split and crack. Add the mushroom stems and a little achiote for color. Cook for another 10 minutes and your done.

Garnish with radish, avocado and shredded cabbage.

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