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Pozole Rojo

What a great time of the year — canning mostly done except for quinces and relish, pantry so overflowing with canned goods and dried fruit that I had to expand to a bedroom closet, new plantings of radicchio and lettuce, good stands of turnips, beets and mustard greens, and best of all, it has cooled down enough to where I feel like baking more often.

This last day off I made pozole (pork and hominy stew) and anadama bread, which really goes well with the pozole. Pozole is like chow-chow  in that there many different versions and styles.

Here is my pozole rojo. Since I try to make enough for at least three meals and it freezes well, feel free to cut it in half.

Pozole Rojo

Start with 2lbs of country style pork ribs, boneless. It is traditionally made with pig’s head, which are usually in short supply around here.

½ an onion, save the other half for later.

2 cloves garlic

Chicken stock. I like to make it up and freeze it for later, but if you don’t have any don’t worry about it. It will be fine with just the pork. Don’t buy the stuff in a box. It isn’t worth having.

Cut the onion and garlic into slices.

Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with oil and heat.

Put the onion and garlic in the pot and cook until soft.

Cut the pork into chunks.

Add the pork and cook until all sides are brown.

Add four quarts water, bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until pork is done, two to three hours. As it cooks skim fat off the top.

Meanwhile, bring three cups water to a boil.

Place three ounces of destemmed, dried chiles in a bowl. You can find dried chilies in the Mexican food section of the supermarket (feel free to experiment with varieties). This time I used a mixture of New Mexico and ancho chiles. Pour the boiling water over the chiles and let them sit at least two hours.

Cut the other half of the onion into slices.

Rough-chop three cloves of garlic.

Take the chiles out of the bowl. Tear them open and remove the seeds. If you are heat sensitive you should wear gloves. I have cook’s hands so I don’t bother.

Place the chiles, onions and garlic in a blender with some of the water that the chiles soaked in and process.

Place the mixture in a sieve over a bowl and press until only seeds that you missed and fiber remain in the sieve.

Now add the chile mixture to the stew. You should do this in stages. After each stage, taste until you reach the desired heat and taste. I like hot, spicy food so I just put it all in at once. Any of the chile mixture left over, put in a container in the refrigerator and save. It is good for a variety dishes.

Add at least three drained cans of hominy.

Season to taste with salt and oregano, Mexican if you have it.

You are done. This really is good. I consider it a comfort food. I like to eat with either flour tortillas or

Lee Riggs is a Zen priest living in Shasta County who cooked and baked for many years at San Francisco Zen Center.  He is a devoted gardener. His simple credo is that butter is better and that you should be able to taste the hops in beer.