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Posole: Mexican comfort food

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Posole: Mexican comfort food

Every culture has some food to fall back on to warm their soul, cure warts, and make then feel better about life in general. Perhaps it's a goulash that reminds you of mom (how she cooked, not how she looked) or as in the movie “Ratatouille,” a dish of Ratatouille that takes one's mind back to a simpler time. For some Mexicans it a a bowl of Posole, which shares many similarities with chili -- a comfort food for many in of us America. It is easy to prepare as are many types of comfort food and is basically a soup with pork, hominy, and chili paste.

Hominy is not a typical dish for many Americans in the North, for Southerners and Mexicans it is a regular staple and goes into the making of Hominy Grits, Masa, and many casseroles. In fact Hominy is just another word for Maize and was used by Indians long before white-eyes darkened their doorway The leached lye out of wood ash and used it to wash the corn. Soaking the kernels of corn in lye was a way of helping preserve the corn and the technique is still used today to produce large white soft kernels. One can make their own, but it is just as easy (and using lye isn't a lot of fun) to pick up a can, generally from the vegetable aisle at the local market.

The Chili paste is probably the next most exotic ingredient (for some). It is easy to make from dried chili pods, preferably mild as one can always spice it up a bit later. Take the pods, rinse them, snap the tops off and discard the stems, shake out any seed and drop the in a pot. Cover with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil, remove the pot form the heat and weigh the peppers down so they remain under the water ( a small saucer will do). Let the peppers sit for half an hour until they are soft. Save a cup of the water and pour it in a blender with the peppers and liquify. Set the paste aside.

That was the most complex part of making the dish. The rest is is as easy as falling off a slippery log. Cut the pork in uniform sizes, drop it in a pan with a can of hominy (strain the goopy stuff out),, cover with water and simmer until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes. Strain the chili paste through a fine mesh sieve into the pork and hominy and simmer for another 15 minutes – don't be afraid to add a little more water if it seems to get a little thick. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as necessary.

It's a good soup, or if left to thicken a bit, a great stew as well. The family will be enjoying food that has given comfort and sustenance to people for hundreds of years and hasn't changed a speck since its inception. It is one of the tastiest dishes that feed the soul as well as the belly and is at home on the table for special occasion as it is everyday meals.

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