Here’s a recipe for one of the classic foods of Mexico as prepared in the state of Guerrero. Made of slow-cooked, mildly seasoned pork and hominy, it gets its savor and complexity from an abundance of unusual garnishes, including avocado and canned sardines—the favored garnishes at El Pozole de Moctezuma, the Mexico City restaurant that inspired this recipe. Traditionally made for parties and important holidays, this stew also makes an excellent and hearty one-dish meal for a chilly night.
- Place the pork, half of the quartered onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 3 bay leaves, half of the cracked allspice, and half the salt into a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover all the ingredients by an inch and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until scum forms on the surface of the broth; skim it off with a spoon. Continue to cook the pork at a steady simmer, partially covered, until the pork is very tender but not falling apart, about 3 to 4 hours. Taste the broth a few times toward the end of the cooking process and adjust seasoning accordingly. When the pork is very tender, remove it from the pot and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Cut or shred the meat into ½-inch pieces, discarding the bones, and set aside. Set aside the pork broth in the pot it was cooked in.
- Meanwhile, about an hour before the pork is finished cooking, add the drained and rinsed hominy to a medium pot along with the remaining aromatic ingredients: the onion, garlic, bay leaves, allspice, and salt. Add enough cold water to cover all the ingredients by an inch and bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until a flavorful, aromatic broth has developed, about an hour. Taste the broth a few times toward the end of the cooking process and adjust seasoning accordingly. Strain the hominy from the broth, reserving the hominy broth.
- Add the hominy and chopped pork to the pot containing the pork broth. Stir it around a bit and observe—you should have roughly 50 percent hominy and pork and 50 percent broth. Add more of the hominy broth if you need to. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. Place over a medium fire, and when the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered partially, until all the flavors blend, 20 minutes.
- Set the garnishes out in bowls at the table. Allow the pozole to cool slightly before serving—you don’t want the egg to curdle when it’s stirred in. Serve each diner a portion of pozole in a bowl large enough to allow room for all the condiments. Encourage your diners to try all of the garnishes. Start with the eggs: Allow a single egg per bowl; blend it before stirring it into the warm broth. Then, per bowl, continue with a tablespoon or so of chopped onion; a generous pinch of oregano; a pinch of pequin; about a teaspoon of chopped serranos; roughly 2 teaspoons of lime juice; half an avocado, scooped directly from the shell in chunks; 1 or 2 sardines, mashed slightly into the pozole broth; a handful of crumbled pork rinds; and 1 to 3 teaspoons of mezcal. Instruct diners to stir the entirety and enjoy with tostadas, broken directly into the pozole or eaten on the side.
James Oseland is the editor of World Food, a collectable book series forthcoming from Ten Speed Press that celebrates the world’s greatest food destinations; the first two volumes are about Mexico City and Paris.