I miss a lot of things about living in New Mexico, the scenery, the weather, the hot air balloons... but more than anything else I miss the FOOD! And NOW is the time when families all over the state would be preparing two of my FAVORITE dishes: tamales and posole.
This is my recipe for one of my all-time favorite New Mexico dishes, a delicious Vegan Posole. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Posole is a very old and traditional dish dating back to around the 14th century in what we now call Mesoamerica. The Aztecs were known for their agriculture and grew many of the popular foods we love today, namely corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, and chile peppers. They would make pozole to celebrate their gods, good harvests, and the changing seasons.
Posole (or pozole) was a thick stew of processed maize (corn into hominy), chiles, and pork. But there is a more gruesome side to this beloved recipe.... before the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, pigs were not native to the Americas. So they used another kind of meat in their celebratory feasts instead.....namely human.
I won't go into the gory details but thankfully cannibalism was banned, and pork was substituted instead.
And TODAY.... we can leave out the meat altogether and make this stew completely meat-free. I used Soy Curls instead of pork, canned hominy, and of course - dried New Mexican Chiles.
This is a very traditional New Mexican Holiday meal and I truly hope you enjoy it.
Step 1: The Soy Curls
If you have never used soy curls, they are simply non-gmo soy beans than have been cooked, then shredded into long strips, and dried. Butler Foods is the Oregon company that makes them and you can find them in Whole Foods as well as on Amazon. I'll add my Amaon Affiliate link below and as an affiliate, I do earn from qualified purchases but at no extra cost to you.
I usually just add hot water to rehydrate them but this time I brought a quart of water to a boil and added about ⅓ to ½ of the 8oz bag of soy curls and simmered them for about 4 minutes. This REALLY rehydrated them and also gets rid of that 'packaged' flavor.
After 4 minutes, drain them really well. I even placed a bowl on top to squeeze out as much moisture as I could. Then I dumped them onto some paper towels and dried them some more. THEN I placed them in a hot skillet and gently browned them over med high heat for about 5 minutes. Just until they begin to brown a little. Then take them off the heat and set them aside.
Step 2: Veggie Prep
While the soy curls were doing their thing on the stove, I prepped my veggies. You'll need to dice the following: half of a white onion, 5 or 6 green onions (scallions), and a large yukon gold potato (about 8oz or 215g). You'll also want to mince 4 or 5 cloves of garlic. Set these aside for now.
Step 3: The Chiles
To prep the chiles I used a 2.5 oz bag of dried New Mexican red chiles. This was about 11 or 12 chile peppers. New Mexico chiles are slightly spicy to me, but might be TOO spicy for you. Guajillo Chiles are said to be milder, and California Anaheims are really mild (and flavorless to me).
Whatever kind you choose, you want to cut off the stems and remove as many seeds and membranes as you can as this is where the heat is. Remember to wash you hands afterwards as that chile oil does burn so be careful with rubbing your eyes.
Once the chiles are cleaned, add them to a pot (I used the same one I boiled the soy curls in) and add another 4 cups of water and simmer for about 5 minutes to softem them up. Once their done, I used tongs to tranfer the chiles to a blender along with 1.5 cups of that chile water, the garlic, 2 teaspoons of cumin, ½ teaspoon ground pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Blend until smooth. Now some people at this step will strain their chile sauce through a fine seive. I never do as I have a Vitamix that does a really good job of pulverizing everything. But it's up to you. If you do strain it you have to literally push and scrape the sauce through the seive. Regardless, pour your chile sauce into a large dutch oven or pot and we're finally ready to make the posole.
Bring your red chile sauce up to a simmer and gently cook it for about 5 minutes. Then add a 30 oz can of rinsed hominy (maiz blanco), your diced onions, scallions, potato, 3 tsp of Mexican Oregano, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, 2 bay leaves, and an entire quart (4 cups) of low sodium vegetable broth.
Don't add your sou curls yet. Stir the stew until it's mixed well and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. THEN add your sou curls and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and you are ready to serve. Traditional garnishes include: chopped cabbage, onions, radish slices, cilantro, and of course freshly squeezed lime juice.
A piñon log is buring in the fireplace, the candelarias are flickering outside the window, and the aroma of this delicious vegan posole is wafting through your kitchen.... ahhh.. Thanks for the memories New Mexico. I really have to come visit again soon.