Peter’s Red Pozole

April 04, 2011
By Holly Jennings

Pozole, a traditional, broth-based Mexican soup, is healthy, nourishing and full of flavors and textures that vary with each spoonful. If you like the contrast of cold or raw toppings—some crunchy, like radish and shredded iceberg lettuce, and some soft, like diced avocado and crumbled cheese—with piping hot broth and tender pork—a veritable salad atop piping hot soup—you will love pozole. Think of the Vietnamese pho or Chinese wonton soup, and you get the idea. Except for the queso fresco, which may be difficult to find, depending on where you live, the garnishes are not optional—they make the soup. (Note: Queso fresco is not hard to make at home. See this recipe to find out how it’s done.)

This recipe is from my friend Peter McGann, who has traveled (and eaten) in Mexico, spent some time cooking in Mexican restaurants, and taken a workshop on Mexican cooking with Diana Kennedy, the author of DCCC’s current pick. In the video  “Red Pozole and the Plenty-wide Chile,” Peters talks about the three types of pozole—red, green, and white—and the key ingredients used in making them, including the two types of dried chiles used to make red pozole.

The Recipe

One of Peter’s favorite sayings about Mexican cooking, which he picked up from Diana Kennedy, is La cocina Mexicana es dura pero segura, meaning, loosely, “Mexican cooking is hard work, but sure.” It is true of this recipe as well. There may be some time involved in making the broth, tearing the meat into bitesize pieces, resuscitating the dried chiles, deseeding and deveining them, and prepping the numerous garnishes, but there is nothing tricky about this soup, and the results are guaranteed.

Pork butt comes in large portions that vary in size depending on the size of the pig. I used a 4-pound, boneless piece. Bone-in is preferred for the flavor and richness that bone marrow gives to the stock. Though this recipe makes a very large quantity of soup, it keeps for several days (and improves with flavor) and it can be frozen. If you plan to freeze half of the pozole, make the entire amount up to adding the hominy; then set aside half of the soup and half of the cooked pork, freezing them separately. When you want to use the frozen soup, you need only add 1 (29-ounce) can or 2 (15-ounce) cans of hominy to the flavored stock, followed by the half portion of cooked pork and salt to taste.

To serve, place the garnishes on the table, allowing each person to choose the accompaniments according to his or her taste—or, as the Spanish saying goes, al gusto.

Serves 15

For the stock:

3½ to 4 pounds boneless or 6 to 8 pound bone-in pork butt (also called Boston shoulder or Boston Butt), trimmed of excess fat

1 large white onion, cut into 8 pieces

3 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed but left whole

3 bay leaves

1 small bunch fresh cilantro (stems and leaves), washed

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the pozole:

3 chiles anchos

3 chiles guajillos

About 2 pounds cooked pork butt (from above)

About 4 quarts pork stock (from above)

4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, toasted in a dry skillet

¼ cup masa harina

Salt to taste (use kosher or sea salt)

Two (29-ounce) or four (15-ounce) cans white hominy, drained and rinsed (about 5⅓ cups)


Chopped white onion

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Thinly sliced radish

Cubed avocado

Dried Mexican oregano

Lime wedges

Crumbled queso fresco (optional)

Tostados or good quality tortilla chips

Pozole ingredients, from the left (clockwise): chile guajillo, chile ancho, white hominy, masa harina, Mexican oregano

The night before: Cook the pork and make the stock

Cut the pork into 2- to 3-inch chunks. Place the meat and the bone, if using a bone-in piece of pork, in a large stock pot and cover with cold water (about 4 quarts). Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours, occasionally skimming scum off the surface of the water as it forms. Add more water if necessary to keep the meat covered. Season the broth with salt and pepper and turn off the heat. Leave the meat in the broth for a half-hour, as the meat and broth cools. Then remove the meat from the broth, and strain the stock. Refrigerate the meat and strained broth once fully cooled.

The day of: Make the pozole

Place the chiles in a bowl of hot water, set a small saucepan or plate on top to help keep them submerged, and leave to soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning them from time to time, until they are soft and pliable. (You will notice that not all dried chiles soften at the same rate; as some become soft, remove those from the soaking water.)

Meanwhile, tear the cooked pork butt into bite-size pieces and remove excess fat.

Degrease the chilled pork stock. Place the stock in a large stockpot and reheat over medium heat. Season to taste with salt.

Break the stems off the chiles and remove the seeds and membranes. The easiest way to do this is under running water.

Place the chiles and ¼ cup water in a food processor or a sturdy blender and puree until smooth. You may need to add more water to keep the blades moving.

Whisk the chile puree into the pork stock and bring to a boil. (To any remaining chile paste that may be clinging to the bottom of the blender jar, add a ladleful of the hot stock to the blender, process briefly, and add to the soup pot.) Add the bay leaves and oregano.

Brillant-colored pork broth, after the chile paste has been whisked in

Add the masa harina a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a large spoon. At first, the masa harina may clump up, but it will eventually dissolve into the soup. Simmer for 25 minutes until well seasoned with the flavor of the chiles and spices.

Add the hominy and salt and simmer for another 15 minutes to develop the flavor.

Add the cooked pork and simmer 5 minutes more to heat through.

Serve with the accompaniments on the side and tostados or good quality tortilla chips for dunking.

Pozole with bowls of garnishes

2 Comments to “Peter’s Red Pozole”

  1. Charlie Campo says:

    Hi Holly! Thanks for the video! It brought back wonderful memories of that day in Mary’s kitchen. Her house has since been purchased by a young family. Seeing the video made me realize how much I miss spending time there with Mary, her family, and eating Peter’s very tasty cooking.

    This past week, I chanced to meet a Vermont dairy farmer. My previous attempts to enter the shadowy world of purchasing raw milk have been full of rumor with no substance. Now, a real, live farmer has agreed to sell me raw milk. His farm is near Middlebury and he simply told me the time each day when I can find him in his milking parlor. No muss, no fuss. Now if I could only find the time to make a stab at cheesemaking. After infoming Peter of these developments, he suggested I contact you.

    In preparation, I purchased New England Cheesemaking organic, vegetable rennet from the Rutland Coop. They had no idea what cheese salt is so I settled for a fine sea salt. When I asked for citric acid, I was shown sodium ascorbate and told it was the same thing. I know enough chemistry to realize that is not true and I began to rethink using the Rutland Coop as a supply source for cheesemaking.

    A Google search yielded Bob-White Systems in Royalton, VT. I am wondering if you have any experience with them. They also hint at having a brick and mortar store but I can’t determine its location. I remember how good your queso fresco was, so I would appreciate any feedback. When I do make my attempt, I will contact you and also try to remember to take photos.

    Here is a link to the recipe I plan to use:


  2. Charlie,
    That day of pozole making was great fun and, as always when cooking with Peter, educational.
    It’s great to hear from you and hear that you’re primed to do some cheese making experiments. I’m considering suggesting a cheesemaking book for the next DCCC bookclub pick, so you may be able to read about lots of cheesemaking adventures on this blog soon. Bob White is the best local source I know of for cheesemaking supplies. And they have a lovely store. It’s in the town center of S. Royalton, on the same block as the S. Royalton market/co-op. If you visit, ask for Leslie. Do keep me abreast of your cheesemaking results. I’d love to hear.
    PS. There is also a very detailed recipe for making feta at home on the blog. I can’t remember if I ever shared that bit of info with you.


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