There’s nothing quite like a hot, spicy spoonful of posole. This tamalified corn and chili pepper soup, a classic Mexican comfort food, has deeply ancient origins, maybe even as far back as the invention of agriculture in Mesoamerica, when the barely edible grass teosinte was miraculously domesticated into maíz.
The original posole was more like a corn porridge than the modern soup. Grains of maíz were soaked in a lime solution, then cooked into hominy. The mash was then left to ferment into a kind of sourdough, to make a tangy gruel that was filling and had a long shelf life. Nutritionally sound, flavored with anything (but most often chilis), this was the standard breakfast in many ancient Mesoamerican cultures, for both rich and poor.
This recipe is a sort of combination of that ancient sourdough porridge, and a modern posole. Tamalified corn is left to ferment just a bit before being cooked through and turned into soup. While your average Mesoamerican commoner had to make do with corn and chilis alone for the base flavor, wealthy elites would have had access to some wild meats like deer or turkey, so we’re using the latter to make this rich man’s posole.
SIMPLE RED POSOLE
200g Hard Field Corn (Do not substitute sweet or pop corn!)
3g cal (pickling lime)
3 cups water
2-4 dried red chili peppers, sliced
Approx 1.5 lbs. Turkey (or Sub Chicken or Pork) parts and bones
2 spring onions (or scallions) for garnish, sliced whites and greens
You must start the soup two days before you want to eat it. Combine the corn, cal, and 3 cups water, bringing to simmer. Cook for 25-45 minutes, until the kernels are nearly cooked through, but still have a raw, chalky white center. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit overnight.
After soaking, strain the corn, then rub off the bran between your hands under running water. You don’t have to get every kernel perfect. Add the corn to a shallow bowl with 1/2 cup of water, so that there is nearly a single even layer of corn sitting in a little water. Let ferment for 24 hours.
Now it’s finally posole day. Start by making turkey stock and chili paste.
Add your turkey parts to a stock pot and add enough water to just barely cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook on low for 2 hours. Strain, add the stock back to the pot, and remove any meat from the turkey parts when cool, reserving.
Meanwhile, slice up the chilis and add to a mortar and pestle, along with 1/4 cup of the fermented corn. Mash an grind thoroughly into a thick paste, then add a cup of water to loosen it.
Combine the maíz/chili paste with the turkey stock, as well as the rest of the corn, simmering for 1-2 hours until the corn is tender and now considered “hominy”. Add the shredded meat to the soup, serve, and garnish with onions.
Taste a spoonful, feel the heat and the pronounced flavor of the corn, and feel all other thoughts and concerns besides having another spoonful melt away.