We Made It To The Top

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Alan and I visited with Irene Webb, literary agent extraordinate, and her beau Michael in New Mexico in the Spring – April 2012 actually. Irene moved to Santa Fe from Santa Monica about 5 years ago after the kids went off to college – one great, gutsy, successful adventure and I hadn’t been to visit yet – shame on me…. It was an interesting trip and I was inspired. I was inspired by the vast, great beauty of the mountains, sky, quality of the light, faces of people, arroyos, vistas, art, jewelry, food, everything. It was wonderful….. But I didn’t come right home and start cooking. It took some time for it all to percolate – I looked at a few books, read some recipes, did some internet research, read about chiles. In fact, it took until Irene’s son Nick Barlow arrived for dinner in late November or maybe it was early December (I think I’m getting old….). We made it to the top of Nick’s list and I knew we made it to the top because he called and readily accepted our invitation to come eat. Honestly I could not have been more thrilled. Nick’s been back in L.A. at UCLA since September and I know he’s been busy with school and work and figuring out how to maneuver this vast city without a car but I’m just saying that we were kind of waiting (no guilt Nick!). It was worth it. We got Nick for dinner and for a sleep over (just like old times although he and Alex didn’t build a fort or play with blocks like in the old days), breakfast and a ride into Santa Monica. Like I said – worth the wait. Nick is one of my all time favorite people in this world – he just grew up really fine and he’s a wonderful, lovely young man. I wanted to make something fun for dinner. It felt special having him over (not like in the old days when it was run of the mill – when he and Alex were little and played together a lot). I bought some chicken and I had some eggplants and I had a plan for those things but it didn’t feel right and it was raining so I went through the books, looked on the internet, pawed through the cupboards and through the recesses of my brain and decided it was going to be posole or pozole whatever. A nice, hearty, rainy day, comfort-food-kind-of meal. Also, Alexandra said she might be coming up from San Diego so I wanted something that she and I would eat too. Something easily adapted for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. So off I went to the grocery store again, inspired by the food we ate with Nick’s mom Irene in Santa Fe, this is what I came up with…. And these are photos of Alex and Nick (from January 7, 2013) and Irene and her fella, and Alan and me, and New Mexico from our visit in April of 2012.

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I don’t have photos of the food….. ☹ I took some but I can’t find them so the photos of New Mexico will have to suffice. New Mexico was after all my inspiration. . .. I’ll keep looking.

Red Pork Posole
(Vegetarians omit the pork part and go directly to the Hominy section)
(my own concoction with influences from many sources!)

Ingredients for pork:
5 to 6 pounds of pork shoulder. I have the butcher cut it into 2” cubes but feel free to do as you will….
2 Heads of garlic
1 small onion (white or yellow or Vidalia)
1 medium garlic clove or more – up to 5
1 tsp Mexican oregano
3 dried red New Mexican chile peppers
4 cups vegetable broth (home-made is best and I make Mark Bittman’s roasted vegetable stock)
12 cups of water

Directions for cooking the pork:
In a heavy bottomed Dutch oven heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook the cubed meat or uncubed meat until browned on all sides. If the pork is in cubes then brown in batches and avoid crowding the pot. Add additional olive oil as needed. Remove the meat when browned and set aside. Pour off excess oil/fat from the pan and deglaze the pan with a little wine or water – about ½ cup.

Put 12 cups of water and the 4 cups of vegetable broth in the Dutch oven. Add the onion, sliced; 3 cloves of garlic sliced; the pork cubes/shred the pork if you cooked it whole; 2-oz dried New Mexico red chiles; and oregano. Cook for about 1 ½ hours or until pork is tender on the stove-top or in the oven 350° for a couple hours until tender. When the pork is finished add in ½ cup of red chile that you’re going to make (see below) and the posole that you already prepared (see below).

If you’re a vegetarian just follow the directions below and don’t add in pork!

Hominy – Rancho Gordo for sure (ranchogordo.com).

Soak the hominy overnight and then cook in a large heavy bottom pot
1 lb of dry hominy (white corn posole ranchogordo.com)
3 ½ quarts of vegetable broth (again, I make Mark Bittman’s roasted vegetable stock) or water
1 yellow onion diced
1 clove of garlic peeled
2 dried red New Mexican chile peppers – stem removed (they’re not too hot and they’re red)
1 tsp oregano (Mexican of course)

Directions to cook hominy:
Put everything into a big pot. Bring the whole pot to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover partially. Simmer until posole pops and looks like pretty flowers. Mine took three (3) hours to cook. Before the posole is done throw in a couple teaspoons of salt. Stir in the red chile (see below) to taste. Add garnishes (see below) to taste. Eat.

Red Chile (make this while the hominy and pork are cooking):
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white onion finely diced
2 medium cloves garlic finely diced
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 Tbsp flour
½ tsp ground cumin
½ cup red chile (powder which you can make yourself if you want) – I use New Mexico chile because it’s got a bit of heat but not too much.
1 tsp sea salt
lime juice

Directions:
Cook onion, garlic, oregano in the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Stir until the onion gets a little color. Add the flour and cumin and stir until the flour browns. Whisk the chile into 2 ½ cups water and then add to the pan. Stir until thickened. Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes, squeeze in lime juice to taste. Add salt to taste.

Garnishes:
2 onions peeled and chopped
2 avocados cut into chunks
crumbled queso fresco
Mexican oregano – toasted
2 limes cut into wedges
a few radishes (washed well) and sliced thin
1 head cabbage shredded
Tortilla chips

Serving Posole:
Put the posole into bowls
Put the condiments on the table so everyone can help themselves.
Yum.

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Categories: Dinner, Mexican, Pork, Soup, Stews, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian

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