Serves 6 to 8
FOR THE CHILI PUREE:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (to toast the chilies)
3 dried ancho chilies or a combination of dried chilies, such as chipotle, guajillo, pasilla, or mulato
½ cup water (to reconstitute the chilies)
1 cup cilantro leaves
FOR THE POSOLE:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch dice
12 garlic cloves, rough chopped or sliced
1 pound dried whole posole (hominy), preferably the small New Mexican version, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup chopped cilantro stems
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 bay leaf
Whole cooked pork shoulder (Optional, from recipe below)
Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chilies and toast briefly on each side. They will soften and puff up while darkening on the outside. Be careful not to burn them. (If you prefer, put the chilies in a hot oven for a few minutes to toast them, but watch them carefully, as they burn quickly.) Put the chilies in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Poke a few holes in the peppers so that they don’t float to the top, and/or cover the bowl with a plate so that the chilies stay completely submerged in the water.
When they’re soft, after about 30 minutes, drain them, reserving the water. Remove the seeds and stems and place them in a blender or food processor. Add the reserved ½ cup water and the cilantro leaves. Process to a smooth paste, adding water as needed.
In a soup pot set over medium heat, lightly sauté the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the posole and 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam; add the cilantro stems, carrot, cumin, coriander and bay leaf. Add the chili puree. [If you want to simmer the pork in with the posole, add the whole cooked shoulder (see below) at this time.]
Lower the heat and simmer until the posole is tender, 1½ to 2 hours. Add salt and pepper as needed. Remove bay leaf. Serve as a soup with or without the pork.
Notes and Variations: There is a tasty selection of garnishes for the posole: 2 cups rough-chopped cilantro leaves, hot sauce or sliced fresh chilies, lime wedges, chunks of avocado, tortilla chips, sliced radishes and/or cabbage.
FOR THE PORK:
1- or 2-pound pork shoulder or belly
1 Spanish onion, sliced
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped or sliced
5 whole cloves or 3 allspice berries
1 bay leaf
1 strip of orange zest
Preheat oven to 300°. Place the pork in a Dutch oven with all the ingredients. Fill the pot ¼ of the way up with water and roast, turning the pork every 15 minutes until it reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer, about 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the liquid fat and bay leaf from the broth. Slice the pork and serve with the broth on the side of the posole or add the meat in chunks and the broth to the posole.
SHELLY BORIS OF FRESH COMPANY
Shelly Boris cooks. As unremarkable as that may read in the pages of a food magazine, I apologize. However, Boris, who heads the kitchen at the Garrison Institute, runs the café at Storm King Art Center, is co-owner and executive chef at Fresh Company catering company and most recently author of the book Fresh Cooking: A Year of Recipes from the Garrison Institute Kitchen (Monkfish, 2014), which is a celebration of cooking locally throughout the seasons, shows a particular devotion and determination when it comes to creating delicious food for the many who cross her culinary path. Boris has shared with us a warming and spicy recipe from her book that will assuredly bring nourishment, and a varying amount of heat, to the cold winter season. —E. Steinman