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Red Pork Posole with Pickled Onions and Queso Fresco


For the Braised Pork:

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 onion, root end attached and sliced into thin wedges

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced on an angle

  • 2-3 small ribs celery from the heart, sliced on an angle with greens attached

  • 1 small bulb fennel, sliced

  • 4 large cloves garlic, sliced

  • A small handful of fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped

  • 2 fresh bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine

  • 4 cups chicken stock

For the Pickled Onions and Chilies:

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 2 red onions, cut into 1/4-inch rings

  • 1 jalapeño, sliced

  • 2 Fresno peppers, sliced

For the Red Posole:

  • 4 ancho chili peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cans hominy, rinsed and drained (14 ounces each)

  • A handful of fresh cilantro, leaves picked and chopped

  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

  • 1 generous tablespoon agave syrup or honey

  • 2 limes, 1 juiced

  • Queso fresco or other mild cheese, for topping

  • Warm, charred flour or corn tortillas, for serving


To make the braised pork: Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Pat the pork dry of any juices and generously season with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the pork in the pot and brown well on all sides. Remove the pork and reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook to soften the vegetables, about 10 minutes, then deglaze the pot with the wine, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock and stir; slide the pork back into the pot and bring the liquids to a low boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours, turning the meat halfway through cooking. Keep the pork in the oven until the meat is tender and falls apart when pulled at with a fork.

Remove the pork from the pot, place on a platter and when cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart with two forks. Divide the meat and reserve half. Strain the cooking liquids and add to the reserved pork.

To make the pickled onions and chilies: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the vinegar, water, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and coriander seeds and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Arrange the onions and pepper rings in a small container with a tight-fitting lid and pour the brine over the top. Cool, cover, and store chilled for a minimum of several hours and up to several days. Cook's Note: The pickled onions and peppers make powerful companions to the smoky mild stew.

To make the red posole: Seed and stem the ancho chilies. Place the peppers in a pot and cover with stock, add a little water, if necessary, to cover. Reconstitute the peppers by bringing the liquids to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the peppers are soft. Carefully transfer the peppers and their liquids to a food processor and process until smooth.

Meanwhile, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil, a couple turns of the pan, in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and season with paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are very soft, 10-12 minutes; stir in the pepper puree, hominy, cilantro, chicken stock, honey, lime juice, and half the pulled pork. Add just enough water to form a stew, as loose or thick as you like, 1-2 cups additional liquid. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal.

To serve, heat the stew over medium heat. Once hot, spoon the stew into shallow bowls and top with pickled onions and jalapeños and queso fresco and serve with warm charred tortillas for dipping and wrapping.