Pork Belly Pozole

Fairly often I get asked the question, "Where do you come up with your recipes? How did you think of that?"

I usually have a pretty good answer. Most of my recipes come as a result of some ingredient that has found itself in my kitchen waiting to be transformed. Other times, my recipes come as inspiration from something I've had at a restaurant, recipe suggestions from friends and family, or watching some of my fave TV shows (Chopped!).

This specific recipe came about for a few important reasons. The most important reason being: Chipotle. Those suckers got me hooked on their pozole soup that they "test marketed" in Chicago last winter. It was so delicious! Big chunks of hominy (over-sized corn), tender meat and all the good flavors of Mexican food packed into a spicy little bowl. When they took it away in the spring, I was delighted to hear it was seasonal, and that it would be back the following fall/winter season. So, I strolled into my local Chipotle last week expecting to get a big bowl to slurp down. Noooo!! What do you mean they decided not to bring it back this year?! I have to eat a burrito instead! Worst. Day. Ever.

Time for Plan B. Gotta make it myself. I took a few days to mourn, and before I had a chance to start researching recipes, a recipe fell into my lap. A friend and co-worker of mine, Victor Giron, chat from time to time about food and writing. He owns a publishing company (and Beauty Bar Chicago) and loves food, and I write a food blog... (evidently). How is he an accountant, a publisher and bar owner you ask? I wonder myself sometimes, but I digress.

Anyways, as we got to chatting one day, he mentioned to me that he wrote a strecipe (= story + recipe) for one of the local publications here in Chicago, which featured a recipe for...... pozole! What are the chances you guys? Victor, being of Mexican descent and all, seemed like a pretty trustworthy source to get some tips on my pozole recipe. With the recipe in hand, I did lots of research, pulled the giant slab of pork belly that had been waiting in my freezer, and came up with my version of Mexican Pozole. I think my family will have to taste test over the holiday season! 

Pork Belly Pozole
 
2-3 pounds pork belly (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 pound tomatillos (husks removed and rinsed)
1 large onion (diced)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 30 oz cans hominy (drained and rinsed)
4 dried New Mexican Chilies (seeded and stems removed)
3 ears corn (kernals cut off)
1 small can died green chilies (hot)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon cumin + 1 tbsp
1 tablespoon coriander + 1 tbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano + 1 tbsp
1 cup boiling water
olive oil
salt and pepper
lime wedges (for serving)
cilantro (for serving)

Start by toasting your dried chilies in a saute pan. Heat pan over high heat and toast each side of the chili until it bubbles and browns (it's okay if it burns a little bit!). Remove from heat and give a rough chop. Place in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel.
While chilies are soaking, bring a salted pot of water to a boil and add tomatillos for 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a food processor or blender.
 
While tomatillos are boiling, saute in olive oil, onion, garlic, 1/2 tbsp each cumin, coriander and oregano, salt and pepper for 5 minutes in a large soup pot. Transfer to the blender. Add the chili peppers and their liquid to the blender as well, and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. (To clarify: tomatillos, onion/garlic mix, and New Mexico chilies go into blender to puree)

In the big soup pot that you sauteed the onion in (trying not to use 1 million pots), heat the pan over medium high heat. Add the pork belly cubes, fat side down. Add remaining cumin, coriander and oregano to the pot with some salt and pepper. Saute pork belly for 3 minutes on each side, until each is browned.

Add the tomatillo/chilie puree to the pork belly. Add chicken broth, green chilies, corn, hominy, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Let soup cook for 2 hours. Taste everyone once in a while and adjust seasoning.

Serve the soup hot with lots of freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro. We served it with warmed tortillas with melted cheese to dip into our soup! Enjoy!

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