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Background info: Before maize made its entrance onto the European stage, this sacred plant was cultivated by ancient Mesoamerican cultures and features prominently in pozole, a dish which played a central role in celebrating their special occasions. Although Italian and Spanish colonizers helped maize become a staple in European diets, they failed to instill one vital process: Nixtamalization.
After drying on the stalk, the corn is boiled in water that is then mixed with ash. This ancient practice renders the corn more digestible and makes its essential nutrients, such as calcium and Vitamin B3, more bioavailable for assimilation. To this day, pozole and hundreds of other corn dishes are made more nutritious through the use of this traditional technique.
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The first time I tried pozole, I fell in love with it. What’s not to love? It is a warm, nourishing stew that is easy to make and uses nixtamalized maize. While traditionally made with pork, just about any meat, from wild game to chicken, will work in this recipe. Plus, it is a great way to use nixtamal/hominy without having to grind it into masa.
- 4 quarts water
- 3 pounds boneless meat (pork shoulder, pork belly, venison, beef, or chicken), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, preferably Mexican, plus more for garnish
- 1 onion, chopped, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 5 dried guajillo peppers, seeded
- 5 dried ancho peppers, seeded
- 8 cups nixtamal or store-bought hominy
- 3 tablespoons lard or butter
- Sea salt
- Optional garnishes: lime wedges, sliced radishes, fermented cabbage
Combine the water and cubed meat in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim the surface and reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, oregano, half of the onion, and 4 of the garlic cloves. Continue simmering for 1 hour, or until the meat easily pulls apart.
While the broth is simmering, combine the seeded guajillo and ancho peppers, remaining onion, and remaining 2 garlic cloves in a medium heatproof bowl.
When the broth is finished, strain it through a colander into another pot or a large bowl, clean the stockpot, and return the broth to it. Ladle enough of the hot, strained broth into the bowl containing the peppers, onion, and garlic to cover. Set the bowl aside for 30 minutes to rehydrate the peppers. Shred the meat with your fingers or two forks and return the shredded meat, along with the onion and garlic, to the pot. Add the nixtamal or hominy to the pot. Return to a simmer over medium heat.
When the peppers have rehydrated, strain the peppers, onion, and garlic through a sieve into a bowl and place in a blender. Add 2 cups of the strained liquid to the blender and pour the remaining strained liquid into the pot. Puree the peppers, onion, garlic, and liquid until smooth. Heat the lard or butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the puree. Stir to incorporate the fat, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add the mixture to the stockpot and stir to incorporate. Season with salt to taste.
Ladle the pozole into bowls and garnish as desired.
Recipe and photo reprinted from Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health by Dr. Bill Schindler (Little, Brown Spark; 2021). Photo by Brianna Schindler. For more information, visit eatlikeahuman.com and modernstoneagekitchen.com.
Check out other recipes from Bill Schindler, PhD:
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Summer 2022 | Volume 46, Number 2
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