Pozole and Homemade Hominy Recipes

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Onions . . . cabbage, and lime juice are all but indispensable pozole condiments.

Learn how to make pozole and homemade hominy recipes that are authentic Mexican food, including Pozole, a hearty Mexican pork-and-hominy soup and a recipe for homemade hominy.

Here’s a pork-and-hominy favorite from Mexico that
might be the most gut-satisfying, gizzard-tickling,
stick-to-your-ribs soup you and your family have ever eaten
on a chilly autumn day.

Hominy is made by boiling soaked corn in a hydrated lime
solution to loosen the hulls.

Ask ten random norteamericanos what
pozole (pronounced poh-soh-lay) is, and you may
very well get ten blank stares in response when it comes to pozole and homemade hominy recipes. And that’s an
unfortunate state of affairs, because this hearty Mexican
pork-and-hominy soup is one of the best tasting, most
satisfying, and economical concoctions ever to be
ladled into a bowl.

Folks down Guadalajara way, in the Mexican state of
Jalisco, will swear that their cooks prepare the only
true pozole, while many señores
and señoras from nearby Michoacan (who have
their own cooking methods) will tell you that
their region’s version is the authentic one. The
truth is that pozole — like most hearty soups and
stews — can be made in a number of ways . . . varying
with such factors as personal taste and what’s in the
larder on a given day. In fact, it seems that almost every
pozole chef has his or her own pet recipe. I learned mine
(which, of course, I believe is the best going) from a lady
named Conchita, and it’s peasant-style all the way.


To prepare it, you’ll need the following ingredients:
2 pounds of fresh boneless pork
2 pounds of pork neck bones (for stock)
2 tablespoons of salt (or enough to suit your taste)
2 cans (15-ounce) of white or yellow hominy, drained 2 tablespoons of powdered pasilla chile (or
California chile or ordinary chile powder . . . see the
information on chiles at the end of this article.)

If you prefer to prepare your own hominy (it’s easy to make
and will taste a whole lot better than the store-bought
kind), the sidebar that accompanies this article will tell
you how to produce the amount needed to whip up a batch of
pozole. And if you really want to “go native”, try
substituting a pig’s head for the neck bones when preparing
your stock. Olé .

Start your soup by placing the stock meat and the boneless
pork in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven and covering them with
water. Then add the salt, bring the mixture to a boil, and
simmer it — uncovered — for about an hour . . .
or until the neck (or head) meat separates easily from the
bones and the chunk of pork is tender. At that point, you
can remove the kettle from the heat and skim the grease off
the broth. (If you’d like to remove the fat completely, you
can simply refrigerate the stock overnight, then
skim it.)

When the bones are cool enough to handle, pick the meat
from them and cut the remaining pork into serving-sized
pieces. Discard the fat and bones, and return the meat to
the pot with the stock. Then add the hominy and chile, and
simmer the soup — covered — for 2 to 3 hours.
(The longer you cook it, the better it’ll get!)

While the spicy treat is simmering, prepare shredded raw
cabbage, chopped onion, chopped radishes (these are
optional), and fresh lime halves or quarters as condiments,
placing them on the table in individual serving bowls.

Once you’re satisfied that the soup is ready, bring the
kettle to the table and ladle out your pozole directly from
the pot. (If you happened to use a pig’s head for the
stock, chop up the ears and stir them into your
pork-and-hominy pottage . . . giving it that extra
touch of authenticity!)

Dig down deep to serve portions thick with pork and hominy,
but fill the bowls only half to two-thirds full . . .
because there’s lots more to come. Now, you see, each diner
can doctor his or her serving by heaping the raw onion,
cabbage, and radish on top . . . and then squeezing lime
juice over everything. The cutup vegetables are traditional
accompaniments for true pozole, but the lime juice is
absolutely mandatory. If you omit it, you’ll be serving a
different dish entirely!


I visit Mexico fairly frequently, and when I return, I
always bring back a few kilos of local pozole corn to use
when making my own hominy. (I also take the precaution of
roasting the already dried corn for 30 minutes, at
275 degrees Fahrenheit, to eliminate weevils.)

Of course, you don’t have to go to Mexico to get corn
that’s appropriate for hominy. You can use dent, flint, or
a hybrid field corn with a high-protein and low-starch
content. Just make certain before you start the process
that the kernels of whatever corn variety you choose are
hard and bone dry.

To begin, soak about 2 cups of dried whole-kernel corn in
water overnight. Then drain the grain, place it in a 6- or
8-quart stainless steel pot, cover it with water, and add 3
to 4 tablespoons of hydrated lime
. . . the kind that can
be purchased in hardware or lumber stores. (I prefer lime
to lye for soaking off corn hulls, though the latter
substance can be used . . . at a ratio of 4 level
tablespoons for every 2 gallons of water. However, remember
that both materials are caustics and should be mixed only
in stainless steel, glass, or unchipped enamelware

After stirring the solution thoroughly with a wooden spoon,
boil the corn for about 30 minutes, or until the hulls
begin to loosen, adding water to the pot if needed. (NOTE:
When using either a lime or a lye solution, remember that
the caustic steam can actually “burn” you just as badly as
can the chemicals in their liquid or solid form.)
remove it from the heat, cover it, and allow the grain to
soak for another 30 minutes. This completes the softening
process and saves energy that would be wasted by continued

The final step is to drain the cooked hominy in a colander
and thoroughly rinse the kernels with cold water. After the
water has been running over the corn for a few minutes,
shuck off the hulls by rubbing handfuls of hominy between
your palms. (I find that this isn’t really much of a task,
since the cooking has already done most of the work.)

Once you’re through, you’ll have a batch of fresh hominy to
use in your authentic, delicious pozole.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: See MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 46, page 72 for information
on cooking with dried corn to produce other Mexican delicacies. To order back MOTHER EARTH NEWS issues, turn to page 52.]


Trying to identify the various types of powdered chile can
be as confusing as U.S. foreign policy. In fact, I once
precipitated a small-scale family crisis in a Mexican food
store when I tried to purchase some pasilla chile. The
10-year-old clerk pointed to one barrel, his 11-year-old
brother to a second, and their father — the store’s
owner — to a third. The funny thing is, each could
have been correct. There simply is no universally agreed
upon nomenclature for chiles.

The wise shopper, therefore, chooses powdered chile by
taste and smell. Place your finger in the spice and sample
it, then sniff. If your sinuses clear, your vision becomes
fuzzy, and your scalp begins to sweat, that particular
variety may be more than you can handle! As a
rule, gringos who are unfamiliar with very hot
foods should avoid serrano and jalapeño chiles. I
enjoy (and recommend) the full-bodied pasilla, New Mexico,
and California chiles . . . but let discretion be your