Anytime there’s a special celebration in New Mexico, posole is on the table. This savory and spicy dish at first glance appears to be almost a bean casserole, but it’s really a spicy corn stew. But the corn in the stew isn’t regular corn—it’s been treated with lime, making the kernels swell before they are then dried out.
“It’s similar to hominy,” says Zippy White, executive chef at the Taos Inn. “Here in New Mexico, a lot of restaurants give you a choice of rice, beans or posole as a side dish. It can be a side dish to just about anything, but it can also be served as a hearty stew on its own.” Historically, posole has been considered a food that celebrates life’s blessings. “It’s always a big accompaniment to a big holiday,” White says. “It is especially traditional for New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.”
In New Mexico, posole can be found in three forms—dried, frozen or canned, but outside of New Mexico, the canned variety is most readily available at grocery stores. The treated corn kernels are then cooked in a broth with at least one or two types of chiles, another New Mexican staple. Posole can be made with either red or green chiles, and it can be made with meat or be a vegetarian dish. Pork is typically the meat used, but beef and chicken can also be substituted.
By Jeanette Hurt.