26.2.09

the continuing cornathon.






















This corn kernel reminds me of Calvin on school picture day. 

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I didn't really dwell on this when it happened, but my Christmas Eve pozole didn't really turn out very well, and of course I made enough of it to fill a VW bug. Here's a picture of it. 























I mean, it was edible, but not addictive: I could never really seem to get it to taste like anything (despite copious applications of salt, cumin, chiles, etc), the accompaniments were the only thing that gave it any life. And the texture of the corn itself was a bit too firm and chewy, although I cooked the living daylights out of it, like 6 or 8 hours' worth. Maybe even twice that. 

So since it was my first time cooking with hominy, I didn't really have any idea what I did wrong. And of course it sucks to have a compact car full of mediocre stew sitting around over the holidays, so I just kind of swept it under the rug, figuratively speaking.

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Tonight, though, was the Me. vs. Pozole rematch, and I was trying a very different strategy. In December, I used prepared nixtamal from the refrigerated foods section in a Mexican grocery store. It seemed like the authentic thing to do at the time.

















Ah, how wrong we can be sometimes. Based on tonight's results, it seems that this quest for authenticity was the fatal flaw with which I shot myself in the foot. Y'see, son, it seems that there are different styles of hominy: Rancho Gordo's dried posole, which is apparently prepared Native American-style instead of Mexican-style, has a really enjoyable toothiness and a very corny flavor, and that's what I used tonight for a pozole de camarón, shrimp pozole with red chiles. 

The recipe is from Stephan Pyles, who got it from Diana Kennedy, who picked it up from a Señora Rafaela Villaseñor in Guerrero, who used to make this pozole during Lent. My variations on the recipe were to leave out dried shrimp and to substitute a small quantity of butter for a small quantity of olive oil (3 tbsp), because, well....shrimp, corn, and chiles? They prefer butter. 

It came out very very good, recipe and pictures to follow. 

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3 comments:

Zora said...

Fassssscinating! It's funny--I always found posole totally boring when I was growing up. Then I finally made some myself, using just canned Goya hominy, and it was great. I wonder if a lot of people (esp in NM) are using the blando-style posole?

Also, I guess the fresh nixtamal is meant really for corn tortillas? And do you just soak the bejesus out of the dried hominy before cooking? Or does it not take much prep?

I can't concentrate enough to read that whole Wikipedia entry to see if it talks about the difference between Mex and Am-Ind nixtamalizing... Does it? What _is_ the difference?


Overall, I now have more questions than I did to start! Hmmm...posole sounds good, though.

(Totally by the way: 30 Rock has improved greatly this season.)

MEM said...

It's all just a little too fascinating: there's just scads of technical information about nixtamalization out there in the Google.

As far as I understand it, the fresh stuff can be used for making masa, but it said right on the back of the bag "mais para pozole", which is why I used it.

I also tried the canned stuff, and aside from tasting canned, it wasn't that bad, but the texture was slightly squeaky to the tooth.

The Rancho Gordo stuff was really the best of the three by far. I think I cooked it for three hours in water, no soaking. It was supereasy.

And.....Wikipedia is no help on the actual difference between Am-Ind and Mexican posole. A conversation with Steve from Rancho Gordo made it sound like it might have something to do with the skins, but I know not.

And And.....glad to hear it about 30 Rock. I'm so far behind I haven't even finished the first season yet...I think my enthusiasm dwindled after i thought they'd gone off the rails. Maybe this will reinvigorate me....

Zora said...

Realized while drifting off to sleep last night that I never came back and checked up on this comment. Thx for checking into things. Did you pester Steve via eGullet? I'll have to poke around on there for answers too.

Stay the course with 30 Rock! It's only, like, the first 5 or so episodes of season 3 that suck.