Pozole: Or, What To Do With The Rest Of That Pork Belly Braise

  I love this soup!

I love this soup!

How about some thing that isn’t pumpkin or cinnamon, that’s warming but not too heavy, that’s luxurious but not too rich.. try this spectacular soup! It’s roughly based on pozole, which is a Mexican soup, usually with a pork base, various veggies, and pozole or hominy.

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Hominy/pozole is simply field corn that has been dried and treated to a lye bath.  The thought is that thousands of years ago, perhaps wood ash - a natural alkaline, or lye, combined with corn during cooking and produced corn kernels that swelled up, lost their hull and become softer.  The process created a corn that stored longer when dried and had more accessible nutrients, as well as allowing to be formed into a dough, masa. 

This is what all corn tortillas, grits, and anything made with masa come from, much to our enjoyment.  If you can find hominy dried, you can prepare it much as you would beans, or buy it canned, which on my opinion, is absolutely delicious.  However, never having never make it from scratch, I may not be the best judge!

This pozole has the satisfying fat from the pork braise along with some additional pork short ribs for good measure.  It’s full of vegetables, lime juice & cilantro.  You can top it with pretty much anything along the lines of sliced crisp radish, chopped avocado, green onion, more fresh cilantro.

  Left over pork belly braising liquid and veggies, ready to go along with the hominy

Left over pork belly braising liquid and veggies, ready to go along with the hominy

  Fresh garden ingredients

Fresh garden ingredients

Ingredients & Recipe

Serves 4-5 as a main course

If you make the pork belly braise recipe I’ve included in this blog, you can reserve half to 2/3 of the veggies and all the liquid to use as your base for the soup.  Personally, I think this is the best of both words, as you can serve the pork cut into chunks as an appetizer, or as tacos, or whatever you like really, then you get an easy second meal with this soup using the extra veggies and braising liquid.  Additionally, the two step process creates an incredibly flavorful and nuanced soup base.

If you are really pressed for time, you could just cook up the veggies & seasonings in some pre-made stock, let them simmer for a while and then move on to the Pozole recipe using this..

Or you can make the simplified version of the braise below:

For the Braise

1 lb piece of pork belly, fat side scored, thoroughly salted & peppered

2 lb mixed root vegetables, such as beet, celery root, carrot, etc roughly chopped in large pieces

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

3  cloves garlic, quartered

2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed

1 bottle of beer

Up to 2 cups of orange or tangerine juice and additional water to cover pork while braising.

Salt & pepper to taste

-In a braising pan, brown the salted & peppered pork belly very well, drain off almost all the fat that had been rendered.  You can reserve this fat for sautéing the pozole ingredients later, if you like.

-Add crushed coriander seed, chopped garlic & onion, a bottle of beer, and top up with juice/water to just cover the pork. Put the lid on the pan and pop into a 300o oven and braise for about 2.5 - 3 hours, topping up with water/juice as needed to keep the braising liquid almost covering

-About an hour into cooking about add the large pieces of vegetables

-Remove from the oven when the pork is fork tender

-Remove the pork and set aside to add to the soup later.  Save liquid  and veggies - you should have at least 2 cups or more of the braising liquid.  As it cools you can skim off the fat that will rise to the top.

For the Pozole

1 lb St. Louis style pork ribs, cut into 2 ribs each.  If you are just using the veggies and leftover braising liquid, increase this to 2 lbs. 

1 cup celery and with the leaves too if you have them, chopped

1 large onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 

1/4 cup of fresh oregano, chopped

1 medium jalapeño, or the equivalent of other varieties of chilis

32 oz container/4 cups of veggie or chicken stock and additional water as needed

25 oz can/2 cups of hominy

6 juicy Mexican limes, or three juicy regular limes, juiced, with a few extra ones cut into wedges for serving

2-4 cups reserved braising liquid from pork belly

Vegetables reserved from pork belly braise

Salt and pepper

If you are using the braised pork belly, cut into bite sized pieces, not too small or they will disintegrate

For the toppings: Fresh lime, chopped cilantro. chopped greens such as radish tops or mizuna, chopped avocado, chopped chilis, slivered cabbage, crema fresca, crumbled cojita cheese...

- In a large soup pan, brown the salted and peppered rib meat sections in olive oil or a little of the reserved pork fat.

-Add chopped celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and cumin to pan with ribs and cook til the veggies are just soft

- Add the reserved braising liquid, oreganaand about 1/2 the stock then cook at a simmer until the rib meat starts to become tender, approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

-To this soup base, add the chucks of pork belly (if you are using), the reserved veggies, the cilantro, the hominy, the rest of the stock and half of the lime juice and cook for another 1/2 hour until everything melds together.

Serve with a good squeeze of lime, and toppings of your choice, such as chopped avocado,  fresh cilantro, chopped mizuna greens (my choice!) thin, slivered radish, or anything along those lines!

  The pork ribs, cut into twos

The pork ribs, cut into twos

  Chili peppers, oh yes please

Chili peppers, oh yes please

  Nicely browned ribs

Nicely browned ribs

  Make a big batch because I promise it will all get eaten

Make a big batch because I promise it will all get eaten

  Squeeze most of the lime and leave some to cut into wedges as a garnish

Squeeze most of the lime and leave some to cut into wedges as a garnish

  Pozole Soup, topped with fresh cilantro, mizuna , and lots of lime!

Pozole Soup, topped with fresh cilantro, mizuna , and lots of lime!