Traditional Mexican pozole, also known as posole, serves as a perennial comfort food -- its tried-and-true combination of hominy, peppers and pork or chicken makes for a hearty stew that wards off both cold and hunger. While most bowls of pozole contain common elements, much of the beauty of this dish lies in its flexibility. Families pass pozole recipes down through generations, and many chefs approach the dish with a signature twist. As such, you have plenty of options for cooling down pozole when it gets too spicy.
A Matter of Proportion
Simply tweaking proportions of basic pozole ingredients, or the foundations of the dish, helps cut down on spiciness. For instance, increasing the amount of chicken or pork stock used in most recipes ups the savory salt content at the expense of heat, while the addition of more hominy also helps offset spiciness. Cutting in a handful or two of pinto beans has the same effect. Reduce the amount of spicy elements such as fresh or powdered peppers, chilies, paprika, onions or black pepper to help douse your pozole's fire. For a more subtle way to scale back heat, simply use a less spicy pepper, such as jalapeno in place of cayenne or habanero peppers.
The addition of optional but commonly used seasonings also helps cool down this bold Mexican stew. For instance, add a hearty dash of dried Mexican oregano to pozole verde, or sprinkle in herbs such as coriander or parsley to lend virtually any type of pozole a pleasingly cool tone. Adding a bay leaf to the pot as your pozole simmers has a similar effect.
To add a smooth and sweet cooling element that contrasts with spicy pozole, stir in a spoonful or so of maple syrup. A hearty dash of orange juice gives pozole verde a tangy edge, and it also dilutes spicy sauce. Tie a bouquet of fresh mint together with a kitchen string and let it simmer with your pozole rojo to add a mellowness to the stew that contrasts pleasingly with the earthy heat of the red chilies.
You can help ease the heat of your pozole even after it comes off the stove. Serve the dish with cubed avocados or a side of sour cream to help diners cool their tongues. A side of cool and crisp sliced radishes or a topping of shredded iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce or shredded cheese all serve the same purpose. Of course, tortillas traditionally accompany pozole, and this side not only helps you get every last drop of stew from the bowl, it also eases the burn of spicy pozole.
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