Pozole, translated as "hominy", is a traditional stew from Mexico. It has a long, ritual history amongst the Aztecs. Hominy, of course is one key ingredient, followed by meat. Other ingredients include vegetables and seasonings, such as hot peppers, onions, cabbage, radishes, garlic, avocado, salsa, lemon, and lime. This dish has a Mexican origin but is found on menus throughout the South-West and South of the border.
The earliest written records of pozole are found in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún's observations of "New Spain" in circa 1500. His observations were called "General History of the Things of New Spain" in which he describes the indigenous dish. However, the presence of Spain in the Aztecan region caused many changes.
This Spanish influence in Central America actually altered the ingredients of traditional Mexican pozole, but not the staple maize, a sacred plant for the Aztecs and many others in Mesoamerica. For this reason, pozole was made for special occasions and was used in religious ceremonies.
Many ancient Mesoamericans believed humans were made by the gods from masa, and the oldest forms of pozole used human meat from ritual sacrifices. The entire community would consume the meal as a part of a communion. The Spanish influence, however, brought an end to cannibalism and introduced pork as the staple meat to take its place.
© stu_spivack - Mexican Pozole
All modern variations contain cooked hominy in a broth and is popular as a celebratory dish from Mexico to New Mexico. The three main types include blanco (white), rojo (red), and verde (green) pozole. White pozole does not include green or red sauce. Red pozole contains red sauce made from chiles (e.g. guajillo, piquin, or ancho). Green pozole uses green sauce from tomatillos, cilantro, pepitas, jalapeños, and epazote.
Most recipes begin by boiling meat with seasonings to create a broth. The meat is then cooked with seasonings, the hominy, and some of the broth for up to an hour. Adding spices is key, such as roasting the chiles and cooking them with the meat.
Once the entire stew has been cooked together and cooled, cilantro, avocadoes, and other toppings can be prepared so that numerous garnishes can be added when served. The result is a spicy dish with plenty of flavor, fiber, and color.
Mexican pozole is also a very flexible recipe. Just as it used to be made from human meat and was eventually made with pork instead, many recipes offer vegetarian and vegan options that utilize meat replacements or even squash and beans. Mexican pozole has evolved over the years to accommodate numerous diets as well as occasions. It's a simple but delicious dish.
© Raul Ramirez - Pozole