Traditional Mexican pozole is one of my favorite one-pot meals. Usually made on Sundays, it's a hearty stew made from pork, chiles and hominy, topped with brighter raw ingredients that hatch a wonderful contrast. It's dubbed a cure for the hangover, but I wouldn't know. undoubtedly, there's something restorative about pozole. It's the Mexican equivalent of chicken noodle soup.
For as much as I've made pozole through the years, it only recently occurred to me to insert whole grain farro in the place of hominy. Farro has a chewy, yet tender bite and sweet, nutty flavor that works perfectly with the soothing stew. I've dubbed it fazole. Here, I've made a green version, but I also love a good red fazole with Chimayó Chile.
Fazole (Farro Pozole)
Makes 4-6 servings
Special equipment: Blender or food processor
3 tablespoons vegetable oil + additional for frying the tortillas
1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
1 cup Bluebird Grain Farms Farro
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or sub regular dried oregano)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 pound green tomatillos, husks removed
1 serrano chile
3 cloves garlic, skin-on
3 corn tortillas, cut into thin wedges or strips
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded, for garnish
4 radishes, thinly-sliced into rounds, for garnish
1/4 white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled, for garnish
Mexican crema or sour cream, for garnish
1 lime, sliced into wedges, for garnish
Set a kettle of water to boil.
In a heavy-bottomed large pot set over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons vegetable oil. Once hot, add the cubed pork and allow to brown consistently. The best way to do this is to leave them still to sizzle and caramelize. you don't want to stir them them around much. Once browned, add the farro and stir to lightly toast. Add 3 cups of hot water from the kettle, along with the salt and oregano and bring to a simmer, cooking about 2 hours, until both meat and farro are tender.
Meanwhile, set a medium-sized sauté pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the sliced yellow onion and sauté to brown, careful not to burn. Set aside.
Set a large cast iron skillet to medium-hight heat. Dry cook first the tomatillos, then the jalapeño and chiles, turning occasionally to blister their skin. If you do not have a cast iron pan, you can achieve the same results putting the chiles and tomatillos on a cookie sheet, setting them under the broiler and turning them every so often to blister all over. Once blistered and softened, put the tomatillos in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Follow suit with the chiles in a separate bowl and allow them both to steam about 1/2 hour. Continue dry cooking the garlic, blistering the skin on each side. Remove and peel, then set aside.
Deseed, stem and skin the chiles (a bit of skin left on is fine), then put them in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add the softened tomatillos, the chiles, the garlic, the reserved sauteed onion and 1 cup of hot water and whiz until completely incorporated. Set aside.
Prepare a large plate covered in 2 layers of paper towel. Add about a cup of vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the tortilla strips 1/3 at a time and fry until bronze all over. Once done, transfer them to the paper towel, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
To prepare all of the garnishes, I highly recommend a mandoline slicer. It makes the job a breeze. Regardless, prep all garnishes and place them together on plates or bowls, set out for your guests to serve themselves.
Once the meat and farro are ready, add the chile/tomatillo mix and allow to simmer again, about 20 minutes. Salt to taste.
Spoon into bowls and serve with the garnishes.