Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.
2 pounds fresh or frozen nixtamal corn*
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, peeled and halved
3 pounds pork shanks, cut into 1 1/2 inch thick pieces**
1 1/2 pounds pork trotters, cut lengthwise in half**
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large pieces**
2 large white onions, finely chopped and divided (1 onion for the pork broth, 1 for topping)
4 ounces dried ancho chiles (about 8 chiles), stemmed and seeded
Toppings: Lime wedges
Sliced Napa cabbage
Thinly sliced radishes
Dried Mexican oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes
Start be prepping the corn. Defrost if frozen. Give the corn a good rinse to remove all of the slime. If you want to bother with aesthetics, remove the hard, pointy end (the germ) of each corn kernel using the tip of a small knife. This will allow the kernel to burst into a flower shape when cooked. Done alone, this task can take 2 to 3 hours. This does not affect the flavor of your soup, so skip if you don’t care what your what your corn looks like in the end!
In a large pot (10 quarts +), add 6 quarts of water, prepped corn and garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, drop the heat down to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the corn is tender (at least 2 to 3 hours). You want to keep the water level in the pot consistent during the cooking process, so add more as the corn cooks (I added water twice while my corn cooked).
While the corn cooks, prepare the pork. In another large pot, combine pork shanks, trotters, shoulder, 2 tablespoons salt and 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. In the first several minutes of cooking, skim off any gray foam that floats to the top. Add 1 chopped onion to the pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until all meat is tender (about 2 hours). If you have the time, let the meat cool in the broth, then remove it. If you are pressed for time, remove the meat from the broth and let cool.
Skim the fat floating atop the broth. You’ll be left with just over 2 quarts of pork broth.
Shred the pork shoulder into large pieces and pull the meat from the pork shanks. Cut the bones and knuckles from the trotters and discard. Roughly chop what remains into 1/2 inch bits (mostly fatty bits). You should have approximately 6 cups of meat. Cover and refrigerate if you are not using within an hour. While the corn and meat are cooking, prepare the chiles. Place ancho chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Set a plate on top of the chiles to keep them submerged in the water. Rehydrate for at least 20 minutes. Blend up ancho chiles with steeping liquid (in batches if needed) until smooth. Once the corn is tender, uncover and pour chile mixture through a medium mesh basket strainer into the simmering water. Extract as much flavor as possible by pushing on the remaining solids with a spoon. Add the pork broth and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, stirring to combine. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.
Add the meat to the simmering soup and let warm through. Check for consistency and taste. The consistency should be hearty but still soupy (not too thick). Add more water if needed. Season to taste with additional kosher salt.
Serve pozole with lime wedges, sliced Napa cabbage, radishes, chopped onion, dried Mexican oregano, crushed red pepper flake and tostadas.
* I was able to find fresh nixtamal corn at a tortilleria in a local Mexican grocery store. If you can’t find this, I would recommend getting dried Southwestern pozole corn. This product is readily available online. If you use the dried corn, you will need to simmer it for a longer period of time (approximately 5 hours). Try not to use canned hominy. The texture pales in comparison to the fresh or dried products.
** Ask your butcher to cut the pork shanks, trotters and shoulder into pieces. This is much easier than doing it at home!