Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Peruvian-ish Posole

posole

Posole. A basic, comforting soup I have enjoyed at restaurants across America that touted Central and South American cuisine. Not having made it before, I dug around to try and identify the when and where of it’s origin. To no avail, I might add. I have most often found it in Mexican and Peruvian restaurants, so then my goal was to figure out the differences between the two versions. I also recently watched a documentary about it being a dish prepared and served in New Mexico hundreds of years ago. Was there a difference? Not much. Peruvian leans more towards tomatillos and green or serrano chiles to give it depth and spice, while the Mexican versions rely on the red chile. New Mexico, of course, relied on their extra special (read Hatch) chiles and local meats. Other variations I discovered switched between the use of pork and chicken. Finally, I decided to come up with my own, since everyone else seems to be doing the very same thing. My goal was to make it similar to the bowl of posole I had in a little, Peruvian restaurant we stumbled upon in a Las Vegas strip mall. No, not on The Strip, but in a mall that is strip like where multiple business share a parking lot. The place was decorated very basically, with varnished plywood walls, folding tables and beat up stackable banquet chairs. The decor accommodated large crowds to watch soccer games or have big parties. We were surrounded by bright posters advertising Peruvian beer, and inundated with loud, quick-paced dance music. The food was amazing and I could only imagine a pre-Colombian Incan family cooking something similar over a fire, in the shadow of Machu Picchu. They may have used alpaca instead of pig, but I am not going there, except in the wearing of a sweater. One thing I love about all my posole experiences is the fresh, raw toppings traditionally served on the side. They give a spark to the otherwise flavorful, yet basic soup. Since I was making the soup for a dinner party I wanted to make sure it was good (duh), and that the topping variety accommodated all the eating habits of guests. I love my friends dearly, but if their diet evolution is anything similar to mine, there is a need for variety in meal preparation. Here is what I came up with, and I must say it was delicious. My dear friends enjoyed it, including Little B. As you can see from the picture, the toppings were many and everyone got to make their own special soup. As usual, the leftovers got better and better a few days later. And as usual, the fun and memories of the people involved in the evening will last even longer.
Peruvian Posole
1 1/2 – 2 pounds pork shoulder
2 Tbsp high heat fat (lard or coconut oil recommended)
2 cups roughly chopped white onion
1 cup roughly chopped carrot
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups pork broth (if there is not enough from cooking the pork, add water)
1 cup dark beer (suggest Negro Modelo or a porter)
4 – 6 cups hominy, canned or prepared fresh (simmered in water for two hours, drained)
1 pound tomatillos, shucked, rinsed and roughly chopped
4 large green chiles, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced with meat included
Salt to taste
Toppings

1 small red onion, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
2 limes, cut into 1/8 wedges
1 bunch radish, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pico de gallo or salsa

In 8 – 10 quart stock pot place pork shoulder over high heat. Turn shoulder as each side browns, until all sides have color. Add water and scrape bottom of pan to release browning tidbits.  Cook pork over medium heat until pork easily shreds, about two hours. Remove pork and liquid from pot and set aside, retaining the liquid separately. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set heat under the now empty stock pot to medium high and add lard or coconut oil. When it is melted add the onions and garlic. When they start to sweat add the carrots. Add paprika, coriander, oregano and cumin. Stir and cook longer until you can smell the spices. Add broth and beer. Cook until it begins to boil softly. Add pork, hominy, tomatillos and chiles. Stir and cook until a soft boil begins. Taste test to see if you can taste the flavors. If not, sprinkle liberally with salt and stir, then taste again. There should be a difference. if not, add more salt. Turn heat down to simmer, making sure there is still a very soft boil. Cook for an additional two hours. Place toppings in separate bowls with spoons right before serving. Serve spoon in large soup bowls and pass around the toppings!

 

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