One of my random cooking goals for 2017 is to learn more about cooking with dried chile peppers.
  • 4 ounces dried ancho chiles, dried guajillo chiles, or a combination of both
  • option to add more heat: 2-3 chiles de arbol*
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder**, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6–8 cups chicken stock
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  • optional toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, diced avocado, fresh lime juice, shredded cabbage, and/or thinly-sliced radishes
  1. Remove and discard the stems and seeds from the chiles. (You may need to give them a shake to get all of those seeds out!) Place the chiles in a medium mixing bowl, and cover them completely with boiling water. Let the chiles soak for about 30 minutes, or until softened. Once they are soft, transfer the chiles to a blender or food processor, along with 2 cups of the soaking water. Puree for 1 minute, or until completely smooth. (Always be careful when pureeing hot liquids — the hot water tends to expand, so be sure that your blender or food processor isn’t too full!) Set the mixture aside for later. (You can also strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to make it extra-smooth if there are some little chunks still in there, but I usually skip that step.)
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute, turning occasionally, until all sides are seared and browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the pork with a separate spoon to a fresh plate and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add the diced onion, and saute for 4-5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, then saute for 1-2 minutes more until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in the 6 cups chicken stock, hominy, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, cooked pork, and the chile mixture. (I recommend stirring in ⅔ of the chile mixture to begin, then taste the soup and add the rest of the chile mixture if you’d like). Stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low so that the soup is just barely simmering, cover partially, and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the pork is tender and shreds easily.
  5. Once the pork is tender, use some tongs to transfer it onto a cutting board. Then shred it into bite-sized pieces using two forks. Return the pork to the soup and stir to combine. Also, if you’d like a thinner broth, add in an extra cup or two of chicken stock to thin it out.
  6. Taste, and season generously with salt and pepper if needed. (Heads up — I used nearly a tablespoon of salt, but go with whatever tastes good to you. The brand of your chicken stock will also make a difference here.)
  7. Serve warm with your desired toppings. Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.