Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Southwestern taste on Christmas Eve

  One of my favorite things about Christmas with friends, is the chance to taste the foods and experience the traditions that they bring to the table. Out west, where almost everyone is from someplace else, the kitchen can be a lively mix of colors and smells.

    My husband likes to celebrate Christmas with some of the foods that he remembers from Milwaukee, a mixture of German and Polish traditions and recipes that remind him where his family  originally came from. Added to that are the foods from growing up in Arizona.  The Posole on Christmas Eve, made by the Tafoya family from New Mexico, is so strong a memory that decades later, he still cooks it.

    Our meals during the holidays continue to evolve, adding new favorites every few years, while still remembering to prepare the old standbys. It helps draw the festivities out, making the season a flavorful succession of feasts, and not just one grand meal. A large pot of simmering Posole can be a perfect companion on a long night of gift giving and sharing.


If you live in an area with good Mexican grocery stores, you may be able to purchase fresh prepared hominy for posole. It has already been soaked, and can be added to the soup later. This recipe will use dried hominy. Soak overnight, drain and rinse, or follow this method.

6 cups dried hominy,  
5 cups cold water
2 lbs boneless pork, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 whole garlic bulb, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
2 red ancho chiles
4 cups cooked pinto beans (optional)
cut up limes, scallions, radishes, cilantro or salsa for garnish

Rinse hominy, add five cups of water, and simmer in a covered pot for about four hours, until the corn is tender and bursting. Drain.

In another large pot, saute pork, onions and garlic until the pork is lightly brown, about ten minutes.  Add the hominy and chicken stock and raise the temperature to a boil. Add the oregano and bay leaves and lower the heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered for an hour. Add the chiles and beef stock and cooked pinto beans if you like that, and simmer for another hour. Salt to taste.

Serve in bowls and let your guests garnish the soup to their liking. Good garnish includes lime juice, scallions, cilantro, bits of radish or salsa.

You can also use cans of cooked hominy as a shortcut, as long as you rinse it well.

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