Many people consider the arrival of October as the beginning of fall, but for me it represents the ascent of the annual balloon fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a three-year attendance drought, my husband, Tate, and I are again headed to New Mexico to see it for ourselves, and we are taking our five-year-old son for the ride. I have been looking forward to this trip all year — specifically the amazing weather and steaming breakfast burritos consumed at 5:00am while strolling through the park grounds watching the giant balloons breathe in the hot air that will soon lift them by the masses into the crisp New Mexico sky.
My husband lived in New Mexico for a spell over a decade ago while training for his profession, and he has always held the area close to his heart. I first experienced the balloon fiesta several years ago when he took me Albuquerque to show me his old haunts. While we were there, the mother of one of our good friends invited us to her hilltop home to watch the balloons, and we shared a big pot of posole in honor of the occasion. Posole is a traditional Mexican dish from the Pacific coast region of Jalisco, a hearty soup made with pork, hominy (dried corn soaked in lye water to remove the hull), garlic, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, and broth, served with an assortment of garnishes. Posole can be blanco, which means that the broth is clear, verde, laden with green chiles and herbs, or rojo, with red chile sauce stirred throughout. Her recipe was simple — pork, onions, cumin, cayenne and water — but very flavorful and with just enough spice to cut the slight chill in the air. I’ve tweaked her version over the years, resulting in an interpretation slightly closer to the spicier rojo.
You might wonder why, in my first column for a magazine that touts itself as being local, why I chose to share a recipe from New Mexico? Fall is my favorite time of year, and I spend a lot of time during the autumn months tending to pots of stew on the stove, or plugging in the slow cooker to make a hearty dinner on a busy day. Pork braises such as posole are a mainstay in our house, for I can take a flavorful cut of local pork, stew it gently for hours to coax out as much flavor as possible, and garnish the steaming bowl with a selection of toppings that can usually be found in my refrigerator: cabbage, sour cream, crumbled cheese and limes.
Feel free to make this version your own, by tweaking the spices to your liking, and even substituting the pork for chicken. I just want you to make it, and savor the flavors from our western neighbor in the process.
NOTE: This recipe originally appeared in the September/October 2014 issue of Edible Tulsa magazine. To read the issue in its entirety, click here.
To print the recipe, click on the box below.
- 1 3-pound pork shoulder or roast
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 New Mexico pepper (such as Hatch or Big Jim) or Poblano pepper, seeded if desired, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried epazote or Mexican oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 30-ounce cans white hominy, rinsed and drained
- Red chile sauce, recipe follows
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For Garnish: Set out bowls of shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, lime wedges, diced avocado, fresh cilantro and crumbled queso fresco
- Warm flour and/or corn tortillas, to serve
- Place pork, onion, Poblano, garlic, cumin, oregano and cloves in a large soup pot. Add 10 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Transfer pork to a cutting board to rest until cool enough to handle. Shred meat and add back to the pot. Bring back to a gentle simmer, stir in the hominy and 1/4 cup of the chile sauce and cook 30 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and more chile sauce, if desired) and serve with assorted garnishes and tortillas.
For my Red Chile Sauce recipe, click here!