So an American, an Italian and a Mexican walk into a pork store…
Okay, lame joke, but seriously, isn’t it amazing how the same piece of pork can yield three very different meals? I think Mike and I were both surprised that we haven’t felt like we were eating leftovers all week, though we really were. A little creative remixing works wonders.
The third and final embodiment of our pork shoulder was a savory Mexican stew called posole (or pozole, depending on who you ask). I think the most important components of the dish are a good, rich stock and flavorful chile powder, and I was happy that we had both – chicken stock left over from the batch I made Sunday, plus Mike’s take on Alton Brown’s chile powder (which he generally makes with whatever varieties of dried chiles we have in the pantry, so each batch is a bit different).
I began by softening about a cup and a half of diced onion in olive oil, and added three fat garlic cloves which I had peeled and smashed. I seasoned them with salt and allowed the onion and garlic to cook until the garlic was fragrant, then I added a tablespoon or so of tomato paste to a hot spot and allowed it to cook for a few moments before stirring it through. I then added two generous tablespoons of the chile powder to the onion mixture and stirred so the onions were coated. The pork went in next – the shoulder bone along with all the meat still clinging to it, plus the fat I had trimmed off after the initial braising. I added two cups of our chicken stock plus two cups of water, covered the pot and let it come to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer for about half an hour.
The pork that had been left on the bone had mostly fallen off in big chunks at that point, so I removed the meat and bone from the pot and set them aside for a moment. I added two cans of white hominy, drained and rinsed, to the broth, chopped the pork into chunks and returned the meat to the pot. I added the juice of one lime, adjusted the salt, and let the pozole cook for about 10 more minutes before serving. For garnish, I used lime wedges and thinly sliced radishes; you can also use diced avocado, tomato, fresh cilantro or grated cheese.
Mike said that this was by far my best posole yet, and I have to agree with him, though I can’t take all the credit since his chile powder played a major part. But the way the pork bone and especially the pork fat enriched the stock was really something special – using those parts that I might have otherwise discarded or used another way added a wonderful richness to the broth. Our pork shoulder is now gone, but we got three great dinners out of it (four if you count the remaining ragu in the freezer), and I think this cycle was a big success.