I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mexican food is my absolute favorite. If I could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, I'd be hard-pressed to not choose Mexican food. Pozole is the ultimate Mexican comfort food. It's full of deep, rich flavor from the dried chiles. Traditionally, pozole rojo uses mostly ancho chiles but I think it's delicious with other varieties too. I use whatever I have on hand and it always turns out great. Each chile has its own unique flavor profile, but I don't think you can go wrong with any combination.
Shoulder blade roasts are the perfect cut of meat to use for pozole. They're kind of a pain to bone out so I like to slow cook them and let time do the work for me. After slow cooking in the dutch oven, the bone will separate from the meat with no effort at all. Pozole is typically made with chunks of meat instead of shredded but I prefer the texture of shredded better. The broth develops a rich earthiness when cooked for a long time as well. Since venison is so lean, I like to add some lard into the cooking process to help add some richness.
I like to strain my broth a couple times to make sure I get rid of any gritty pieces from the chiles or bone. Some people prefer to leave the broth unstrained for added flavor. But if you cook it long enough, it will still have plenty of flavor after you strain it.
You can use canned hominy if you'd like but the flavor and texture of dried hominy is so much better. I figure if you're cooking the meat all day anyways, you might as well take the time to cook the hominy too. Since I live at a higher altitude, I do have trouble with dried hominy cooking all the way so I soak it overnight and use my Instant Pot to cook it.
Putting it all Together:
Pozole is kind of like tacos for me in the sense that I tend to go a little crazy with the toppings. I love having a variety of toppings so that each bite is a little bit different than the last. The toppings are definitely optional but there are 2 things that are mandatory: lime wedges and corn tortillas. The fresh lime juice adds a much-needed brightness to the broth. Give a couple lime wedges a good squeeze into your bowl and mix the juice into the broth before adding other toppings. Tortillas are a necessity to sop up all that extra broth. Next time you're in the mood for some comfort food that's a little bit different, give pozole a try!
Pozole Rojo with Shredded Venison Shoulder Recipe
- 1 venison shoulder blade roast
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lard
- 6 pasilla chiles
- 6 guajillo chiles
- 3 ancho chiles
- 4 chiles de arbol
- boiling water
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lard
- 10 cups stock
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 cups cooked hominy (12 oz dried)
- crumbled cotija cheese
- shredded cabbage
- sliced radishes
- fresh cilantro
- diced tomatoes
- sliced avocado
- sliced jalapenos or fresno peppers
- sour cream
- lime wedges
- corn tortillas, for dipping
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Combine cumin, oregano, and salt in small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over meat.
- Heat lard in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add blade roast and sear on all sides possible. Remove to plate and set aside.
- You can use any variety of chiles that you'd like. I used what I had on hand but many different combinations will work. Remove seeds and stems from all chiles. Place chiles in medium bowl. Cover with boiling water. Place a plate over the chiles to keep them submerged. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Place chiles, ¼ cup soaking liquid, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt in blender. Blend until smooth.
- Heat lard over medium-low heat in dutch oven. Add chile sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until bubbly and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add stock and bay leaves to dutch oven with chile sauce. Stir to combine. Add meat back in. Bring to a boil on the stove. Place lid on dutch oven and cook in oven for 6-8 hours.
- When meat is done, remove from broth and shred it, discarding any connective tissue. Set shredded meat aside.
- Strain the broth using a large bowl and a fine mesh strainer. Strain the broth from the dutch oven into the bowl. Wipe out the dutch oven to remove any gritty pieces stuck to the sides Rinse out the strainer and strain the broth again from the bowl back to the dutch oven.
- Add shredded meat back into the broth. Add in cooked hominy. Bring to a boil on the stove. Cover and place back in oven for 20-30 minutes.
- Serve warm with desired toppings and warm corn tortillas for dipping.
- You can freeze leftovers in a freezer zippered bag for up to 6 months. Fill the bag with pozole, squeeze out the air, and freeze flat on a sheet pan.