New Mexico Nomad Recipes : Posole (2024)

The founders of El Parasol, Luis and Frances Atencio, were always busy around the holidays, though the focus wasn’t on food being served at their busy restaurant in Española. During the holidays they focused on food preparations at home. Home is next to the restaurant so it isn’t far to travel.

Providing Comfort Through Cooking

Frances Atencio loved to cook for people. It was her way of comforting others, of letting them know that she was thinking about them. Every Christmas she was determined to give back to the community that gave her so much. She made a dozen tamales for every family she knew in the Española valley. From what her children say about the experience, she knew every family in a 50-mile radius. It’s a good thing she had a lot of kids, because that’s a lot of tamales.

They spent weeks making them. On Christmas Eve she dispatched her children and her husband as delivery elves, sending them in different directions to drop off the holiday treats to friends and neighbors. As her daughters reminisced, they remarked that it “almost” ruined Christmas. The look in their eyes suggested it is a cherished memory today.

Posole on Cold Winter Nights

New Mexico has numerous unique dishes associated with the holidays. Christmas in New Mexico smells different. Fireplaces fill the air with the aroma of piñon, cedar and mesquite. It tastes different. Tamales are popular, because making them is a group project. It is helpful to have an assembly line worth of family and friends to make them. Biscochitos, the state cookie, are a holiday favorite. Red chile is used as a condiment to smother mashed potatoes or turkey and posole is a traditional holiday soup.

New Mexicans have been enjoying the spicy corn stew for centuries. It is regional ‘comfort food.’ Posole aka Pozole (pronounced poh-SO-lee) is an inexpensive dish to prepare, essentially New Mexico’s version of Matzah Ball soup. Typically it is served at parties, potlucks, and presented as an all-around elixir for anything that ails you. It is more potent than chicken noodle and far more flavorful than Matzah Balls.

History of Posole

Posole, like other regional favorites, is an import from further south, brought here by the Spanish settlers in the 1600s. The Spanish got the recipe from the Aztecs. Posole, made from dried corn kernels, was a regular part of their diet. Corn was a staple crop in central America as well as the Southwest. Corn was essential for survival. The Corn Goddess represents life.

Meso-Americans discovered they could soak corn in a mixture of ground limestone and water to preserve it. By soaking it for several days before draining it and drying it, the corn retained a fresh flavor and could be stored, vermin-free, for several years. This was vital at a time when crop failure or a poor harvest induced famine and collapsed civilizations. In New Mexico, ground limestone wasn’t readily available. The indigenous people modified the curing process, using ash from wood fires to ‘cure’ it. They covered the corn in ash for a approximately a week. Different process, same outcome.

Posole is commonly served for special occasions and during the holidays. It is a traditional dish served on New Year’s Day to herald a year of luck and prosperity. Southerners bring out the black eyed peas. New Mexicans whip up a batch of posole.

Pork is a key ingredient in many traditional recipes. Make substitutions as dietary restrictions require; however, if pork is a possibility, there’s no need to mess with a good thing. The recipe customarily uses large kernel white corn, soaked in a solution of lime and dehydrated; however, hominy is frequently used as a substitute for the sake of expediency.

Posole Recipe

Servings: 6 – 8

El Parasol’s posole recipe is the same one used by Frances Atencio. Frances’ children have mastered the recipe and continue to serve their mom’s comfort food at El Parasol locations in Espanola, Santa Fe and Los Alamos.


  • 1 ½ pound of posole corn or hominy (dried or frozen)
  • 3 ounces dried New Mexico red chile pods (6-7 large chile pods)
  • 3 pounds of fresh pork roast
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  1. Rinse posole corn (hominy) until water runs clear. Drain.
  2. Place posole (hominy), roast, onion and garlic into a large stock pot and cover with water. Salt to taste.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Partially cover with a lid and cook until pork is tender and falls apart. Corn should also be soft and tender. This usually take 3-4 hours.
  5. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cutting the roast into large pieces and returning them to the pot.
  6. Add chile pods and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour, until chiles are soft and completely rehydrated. Add water if necessary.

Serve with ground oregano, diced onion and lime.

Please leave your recipe modifications and/or questions in the comments below.

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New Mexico Nomad Recipes : Posole (3)

New Mexico Nomad Recipes : Posole (2024)


What are the 3 types of pozole? ›

The three main types of pozole are blanco (white), verde (green) and rojo (red). Pozole blanco—"white pozole"—is the preparation without any additional green or red sauce.

What's the difference between pozole and posole? ›

There's really no big difference between pozole and posole, except a letter. In Mexico, where the brothy, chile-spiked soup originated, it's often spelled with a "z"; near the border and beyond, it's often spelled with an "s." It just depends where you are, and who taught you to cook it.

What is the history of posole in New Mexico? ›

Posole, like other regional favorites, is an import from further south, brought here by the Spanish settlers in the 1600s. The Spanish got the recipe from the Aztecs. Posole, made from dried corn kernels, was a regular part of their diet. Corn was a staple crop in central America as well as the Southwest.

How long does it take for Bueno posole to cook? ›

Using a Dutch oven or heavy pot, add 2 quarts water, chicken broth, posole and salt. Heat on medium-high and cook posole for 45-60 minutes minutes until tender. In separate saucepan, melt butter and sauté onions with flour for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

What does pozole mean in English? ›

: a thick soup chiefly of Mexico and the U.S. Southwest made with pork, hominy, garlic, and chili.

Is menudo or posole better? ›

Q1: Is posole or menudo healthier? Posole can be made a bit leaner than menudo thanks to the option of making it with chicken, but both dishes are full of vegetables and different groups of nutrients, so honestly, both soups are pretty healthy overall.

Is pozole healthy or unhealthy? ›

Conclusion. As we've seen in this post, pozole can be a healthy and nutritious addition to your diet. It is a good source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Why do Mexicans eat pozole? ›

Both soups are also deeply emblematic of their cultures. The roots of pozole pre-date Spanish colonization, and the dish is said to have had ritual significance for the indigenous people of Mexico. Its principal ingredient, corn, was a sacred crop to the Aztecs and Mayans.

Do you drain hominy for pozole? ›

If you are using canned hominy, make sure to drain it before adding it to the stew. To cook dried hominy, place 1 cup in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring to a boil and add plenty of salt to season it. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until just tender, about 2 hours.

Who invented menudo? ›

Its origins remain a mystery – some people attribute its humble beginnings in Central Mexico during Mexico's pre-revolution era as a soup prepared from poverty – also known as “poor man's soup.” Usually, food waste and leftovers were given to peasant cooks, who invented menudo by using the stomach.

What are some fun facts about pozole? ›

Interestingly, historical records suggest that during special ceremonies, the meat used in pozole was not pork or chicken as we know it today, but rather human flesh. After the arrival of the Spanish, who banned cannibalistic practices, pork was substituted, as its taste was said to be similar.

What did the Aztecs use for pozole? ›

Originally, Pozole was made from the human meat of prisoners whose hearts had been ripped out in ritual sacrifice. Thankfully, after the Spanish conquest in the 1500's, cannibalism was banned and the meat in this dish was replaced with pork.

Why does my pozole taste bland? ›

If you feel like your finished pozole rojo is missing something, it is likely salt and heat. Once you season to taste with salt and either reserved chili seeds or cayenne pepper, then all the flavors will come alive.

Do you wash canned hominy before cooking? ›

Utilizing the appropriate cooking method for the type of hominy you have is key. Another common issue is not thoroughly rinsing canned hominy before use. Rinsing helps to remove any residual sodium or canning liquids, which can affect the final flavor of your dish.

Why does my pozole taste watery? ›

If you don't add enough bouillon, the pozole will taste watery. If you add too much bouillon it will be really salty (but you can fix that by adding more water). Start with a few generous shakes of bouillon and when the pozole is almost finished taste it and see if it needs more.

How many types of pozole are there? ›

3 Types of Pozole

There are three varieties of pozole—green, white, and red—that are made with either chicken or pork shoulder. (Vegetarian preparations swap in beans and vegetable stock.)

Is there different types of pozole? ›

There are three main types of pozole, each named for the color of the soup: verde, rojo and blanco.

What is the original pozole? ›

Therefore, the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples cooked Pozole only on special occasions. Originally, Pozole was made from the human meat of prisoners whose hearts had been ripped out in ritual sacrifice.

What is the difference between pozole blanco and rojo? ›

Pozole not only has a rojo and verde version but also a blanco (white) as well. The differences between the three are pretty simple: rojo uses dried chiles, verde uses fresh green chiles, and blanco omits chiles altogether.

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