I am on a mission this year to get us to eat more vegetables (and fruit) and going meatless one dinner a week helps the cause. The challenge is that I cook for two carnivores. I mean meat lovers extraordinaire. So, I am on task to find things they LIKE versus tolerate because it’s what mom cooked. The criteria includes that it cannot be not too beany (for them), not too carb and cheese heavy (for me), and tastes delicious (all of us).
Last night I had success. A while back I went to a class Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe taught at Kitchen Conservatory, and he made a posole with dried hominy. He told us once you taste the real stuff reconstituted, you can never go back to canned. Kevin is the kind of chef that you should always follow his culinary advice. He’s right. The texture and taste are far superior. The canned tastes waxy; the dried comes out creamier. That sounds funny, but it is true. It has a nice depth and even complex flavor. And it is so easy to reconstitute hominy.
For newbies, hominy is corn that’s been nixtamalizated. Cool word, huh? It means the corn has been mixed with an alkaline until the hulls come off, which makes it considerably healthier. The niacin in the corn is easier to digest, and it's a good source of fiber, zinc, B vitamins, polyphenols, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Hominy is quite versatile and acts as a flavorful background and thickens soups, stews, makes great side dishes. Think TexMex mixed with rice, jalapenos, cumin, and onions, or Southern with bacon and onions. It being dried, it lasts forever.
To satisfy my meat lovers, I wanted the consistency of this to be quite thick so I did not use nearly as much broth as the original recipe from Vegetarian Times indicated (perhaps a cup, but add more if there’s not enough to cook the veggies), and I cut it in half to make 3-4 servings. I was lazy and omitted the dried chiles, using about a 1/3 cup or so of pretty potent (SPICY) homemade salsa. I also used a few cups of home-canned tomatoes and their juice. Lastly, I threw in zucchini I sliced, blanched, and froze this summer and added to heat just before serving. This is the kind of recipe that you can use what you have in the pantry and is very flexible. Just the way I like to cook during the week.
Vegetarian Posole Stew
2 cups dried posole, or 4 cups canned
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, minced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and into thin slices crosswise
2 yellow squash, cut in half length-wise and into thin slices crosswise
4 tomatoes, diced
4 dried New Mexico red chile pods, seeded, stemmed and torn into 12 pieces
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth
1 t. cumin
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 1/2 t. salt
Soak dried posole overnight in 1 quart water. Next day, drain posole, and discard soaking water. Place posole in large pot of water to cover by 3 inches. Bring posole to a boil over high heat, and reduce heat to low, cooking, uncovered, about 11/2 hours, or until kernels burst and are puffy and tender. Add water during cooking, if needed. Drain posole, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and sauté onion until clear, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, and sauté until almost soft. Add zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes, and sauté 3 minutes more.
Add posole, red chile pods, bay leaves, vegetable broth, cumin, oregano, and thyme. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low, cooking 30 minutes. Add salt, and continue cooking 30 minutes more, adding more water if needed. Serve hot in large soup bowls with warm bread.