Red Pozole (Pozole rojo) – An Authentic Mexican Recipe

Within the first couple of weeks after we moved to León, Guanajuato (almost three years ago), we were invited to have our first home-cooked Mexican dinner with new friends. Our wonderful visit started with a delicious sipping tequila – the first time we had ever tried a tequila that tasted good and was not designed for shots or mixed drinks. But the real winner that night was our first introduction to a traditional Mexican soup called red pozole or pozole rojo, a flavorful red soup. My family and I were amazed at how delicious the dish tasted. My children actually asked for more than one serving (that rarely happens). When we left our new friends’ house that night, my family was already requesting that I learn how to make that dish.

Red pozole or pozole rojo. Photo by Angela Grier

During a chance conversation with another new friend a short time later, I was given a list of ingredients for red pozole and some basic instructions on how to make it. I bought all of the food on the list and went home, prepared to make this dish. Or so I thought. I was trying to follow the instructions I had been given and my maid was watching me fumble through it. She finally asked me what I was trying to do and I told her. She shook her head at me (I think she was trying not to smile or laugh) and proceeded to explain and demonstrate to me her method of preparing pozole. So I will write out the recipe for my maid’s traditional pozole rojo.

The ingredients needed are as follows:

Pork roast, approximately 2 lbs, cut into bite-sized pieces

Hominy, one large can

Guajillo chile, 2 bags of dried chiles (I use between 1 and 2 bags, depending on the number of people eating)

Chile de arbol, 2 dried chiles (adjust the spiciness of the soup with the number of these chiles used. Pozole is not supposed to be a spicy soup but I use a couple to boost the zing.)

Pork broth, several cups (I boil the pork bones from the roast to make this)

Toppings: cilantro, sliced radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage, limón (a smaller sized variety of lime), dried oregano, and tostadas

I start by slicing open the guajillo chiles and chiles de arbol and knocking out the seeds and the vein inside and cutting off the stem. I put the emptied chile into a small pot. Once the pot is full, I fill it with water, bring it to a boil, and boil the chiles for about 30 minutes. I weight the chiles down with a small plate to make sure they are completely submerged. I turn off the burner and let the chiles sit in the water for at least 30 minutes. Once the water is cool, I empty the chiles and water into a blender and blend until I have a beautiful, thick, red liquid without chunks.

While the chiles are boiling, I saute the pork pieces in oil in a big pot (I’m sure it’s more authentic to use manteca or lard, but I don’t usually have that in my kitchen). Once the pieces are browned, I add the red chile sauce and deglaze the pot. After deglazing, I add the hominy and the pork broth that I had prepared earlier. If you don’t have pork broth, any kind of canned broth or even water would also work. If using water though, you may need to add bouillon later to get a richer broth. I like to cook this for at least two hours. I have read some recipes that say the hominy only needs to cook for an hour. I don’t know what hominy they’re using, but I have always needed at least two hours, if not three, to sufficiently cook the hominy so it is soft. While the pozole is simmering, I prepare all of the toppings – thinly slicing radishes, chopping cilantro, shredding cabbage or lettuce, and cutting the limón in half so that it can be easily squeezed into a bowl – and assemble them into small bowls.

Sauteed pork pieces. Photo by Angela Grier

Red pozole is an easy soup to make and it can be easily adjusted for taste. If you want a spicier soup (less authentic) and choose to add more chile de arbol, use crema or sour cream to cut the spiciness for those who will eat the soup and do not enjoy the extra spiciness. I have made this soup several times during the last few years and it is always a hit with my family. It is also traditionally served on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed this comforting soup this past year while we were locked down and avoiding parties. There is also a green pozole soup, pozole verde, however, I have not yet learned how to make that. That may be the next soup I ask my maid to teach me how to make.

Cooking hominy in red pozole. Photo by Angela Grier

I have to admit, the reason I am posting this recipe is because I watched a funny video recently that circulated through my friend group of a famous American TV cooking show host who was making “authentic Mexican pozole” and the reaction of Mexican moms watching her make her “authentic” soup was hysterical. That prompted me to search red pozole recipes online and I realized that there do not seem to be any recipes like mine in English. So I decided to contribute this red pozole recipe from central Mexico. I hope you enjoy it!

Published by Angela.Grier

I'm a wife of an engineer and a mom of two elementary-aged children, a boy and a girl. I was a fisheries biologist for several years, a stay-at-home mom for three years, then a middle school science teacher for three years. I currently live in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico with my family. I have a WIDE variety of interests, too many according to my husband. I quilt, crochet, knit, scrapbook. I sometimes play piano when I need peaceful moments. I love to cook, especially anything containing eggs (someday I need to raise chickens in order to feed my egg addiction). I read voraciously, books of all genres from Stephen King to Robert Jordan, Libba Bray to Edward Robertson, Grace Burrowes to Kim Harrison. I like to run, especially in races (I'm only a little competitive). I love to fish, camp, and hike wherever there are wild spaces. And if there were more hours in the day, I'd probably fill those extra hours learning a new skill or revisiting the ones I did not include in this list because it's been so long since I last did them.

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