I began my pozole verde for the Christian Chef International conference on Tuesday afternoon. I used the afternoon break from the conference agenda to work on my mise en place for a special Dutch oven dinner on Wednesday. I needed the extra time to get ready for the meal on the next day.
My first task was to rip the husk from three pounds of tomatillos. Quartered tomatillos went into a sauce pan with chunked jalapeno chile peppers and cilantro stems. After simmering for 30 minutes, I pureed the sauce and strained it into a storage container. I would fry the sauce on Wednesday.
Next a pound of green pumpkin seeds went into a large dry skillet (no oil). I gave the seeds a light toast and moved them over to the food processor. I set the ground pumpkin seeds aside for use in the finished soup on Wednesday.
At noon on Wednesday, I set five pounds dice pork butt, four large quartered onions and two dozen cloves of garlic into a gallon of water. I set the stockpot over a burner and simmered it all afternoon.
About 45 minutes before dinner I added the contents of a drained #10 can of hominy to the soup base. The salsa verde from Tuesday quickly followed as did several bay leaves and a handful of dried thyme. The soup was ready to serve after it had simmered for 30 minutes.
Around 35 conference attendees and camp staff devoured the two and one-half gallons of soup. You could say I was a "happy camper." A clean soup pot and happy diners gave me a broad smile!
Individual tastes and makeup of each group will determine the condiments needed for the pozole. These amounts are based on the tastes of the residents at work.
2 quarts water
2 large white onions, cut in half
1 head garlic
1-1/2 pounds pork shoulder, diced
Chili verde sauce:
4 ounces pumpkin seeds
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husk removed and quartered
2 jalapeno chile peppers, seeded & chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 (#2-1/2) cans hominy, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2-3 bunches radishes, sliced
1 white onion, chopped
10 limes, cut in quarters
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
3 jalapeno peppers, minced
TO PREPARE SOUP BASE: Pour water in 12- to 15-quart stockpot. Add onion, garlic and pork. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until pork is tender.
TO PREPARE CHILI VERDE SAUCE: Place pumpkin seeds into an ungreased skillet and heat through over medium heat, shaking pan from time to time, until they begin to pop around and swell noticeably; do not let them brown. Cool; grind them finely in a spice grinder or blender.
Set tomatillos into a pan with 1-cup water. Cook over medium heat until soft and mushy - about 15 minutes (there should be hardly any liquid in the pan; if there is, drain them). Transfer mixture to a blender bowl. Add chopped cilantro, fresh chiles, and 2 cups water and blend until smooth.
Heat oil in a heavy pan and press blended ingredients through a fine strainer. Fry over fairly high heat, stirring from time to time, for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the ground seeds and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the broth has thickened slightly and is well seasoned - about 10 minutes.
TO FINISH SOUP: Remove pork and shred. Return meat to pot with chile sauce, hominy, oregano and bay leaves. Continue cooking to blend flavors. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and chile sauce.
Serve an 8-ounce ladle to each person. Set condiments out in bowls and let each person garnish his bowl of soup to suit his personal taste. Prepares approximately 1 gallon of soup.
Adapted from a recipe in The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy (2008 ed.). Kennedy uses about 20 sorrel leaves in place of cilantro. The recipe is a favorite of hers from Chilapa in the Mexican state of Guerro.
Rick Bayless uses this procedure: Simmer tomatillos in salted water until tender and drain. Add toasted pumpkin seeds, green chile, onion and herbs with broth from stockpot, then puree in blender. Push through strainer into hot skillet with lard. Fry sauce 7 minutes until thickened. Pour sauce into soup base.
Bayless uses two Mexican herbs:
(1) Espazate (pigweed or Mexican tea) - pepper, licorice flavor
(2) Haja santa - anise flavor; use fennel bulb tops in its place
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