I got my first taste of pozole from my co-worker Jessica several years ago. The red-orange hued soup was left over from a family get-together the weekend before—I think one of her son’s birthday parties. She warmed it up on our test kitchen stovetop and offered bowls to our team. One taste and I was HOOKED. It was warm and comforting, mildly spiced yet packed with flavor, and topped with all kinds of fresh garnishes. When I set out to recreate it, I texted her for the scoop. She gave me ingredients and I set to work. The result is this Easy Red Pozole. It’ll never be as good as Jessica’s, but I think I got it pretty close!
Jessica explained that her Mexican American family makes pozole for large family parties and celebrations. It stretches far among hungry relatives and friends, and it’s simple to make. She uses pork necks, but I chose pork shoulder instead. The main reason was that I couldn’t find pork necks, but I didn’t look very hard either. I wanted a slightly meatier soup so my meat-loving husband would deem it hearty enough for dinner. 🙂
And this soup is indeed hearty! It’s chock full of pork and also hominy, which is made from dried corn. Hominy is basically puffed-up, juicy, slightly salty corn kernels. I popped a few into my mouth before the hominy made it into the soup—yum! It comes canned and you can find it in the Mexican food aisle of most grocery stores.
The real star of the soup, however, is the broth. The base is pork stock, which you make by cooking the pork in water with onion and garlic. Then you add guajillo chiles that have been soaked (to soften them) and blended with oregano, cumin, and a little of the hominy. The result is a bright red-orange broth that’s warm but not spicy, slightly thickened from the hominy, and packed with flavor.
Easy Red Pozole gets its name because of its short ingredient list and relatively easy preparation. Chopping up the garnishes, however, takes a little bit of time! I chose chopped radishes, chopped cilantro, diced white onion, shredded romaine, oregano, lime edges, and tortilla chips, at Jessica’s recommendation. You could choose any or all of those. Just reserve some time to chop while the pozole is cooking!
As Jessica indicated, Easy Red Pozole is perfect for a crowd. I got about 12 bowls of of this recipe. Seeing as the weather has been unseasonably cool, it would be perfect for a Cinco de Mayo get-together this year!
I served it for an early Cinco de Mayo celebration with my friend Kelley of Haviland Events. She did the adorable tablescape (Home Depot carries those cute succulents/cacti!) and I made the food.
Easy Red Pozole
- 3½ lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, divided
- 2 (29 oz) cans hominy, drained
- 3 oz dried guajillo peppers
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 5 teaspoons kosher salt
- For garnish: chopped radishes, chopped cilantro, finely diced white onion, tortilla chips, shredded romaine lettuce, oregano, lime wedges
- Place the pork shoulder in a large stock pot or dutch oven. If your pork shoulder has a bone, add that too.
- Add the onion, 5 of the smashed garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons salt.
- Add water until it reaches 1 inch above the pork. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer on low until the meat is tender, about 2–3 hours.
- Remove the onion, garlic cloves, and bone (if you added it).
- Add the hominy, reserving 1 cup for later use. Cook for 30 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, place the peppers in a medium bowl. Pour 5 cups of boiling water over the top and cover. Let sit for 20 minutes. Drain the peppers.
- Remove the stems and cut the peppers open. Remove the seeds and membranes.
- Place peppers, remaining 5 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 teaspoons cumin, and 3 teaspoons salt in a blender. Pour 1 cup water over the top. Blend on high until almost smooth.
- Add the remaining 1 cup hominy and blend until completely smooth.
- Pour the pepper mixture into the pot with the pork. Stir to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve in big bowls with chopped radishes, chopped cilantro, finely diced white onion, tortilla chips, shredded romaine lettuce, and lime wedges on the side.