Maize, or corn, started as a wild grass. History tell us that the domestication and development of corn was done in diverse areas of southern and central part of México. This was a result of the creativity and wisdom of the indigenous people that occupy this soil since prehistoric times. Its domestication dates back between 5,000 and 10,000 years B.C.
My cousin Rosa, who owns a huge farm in Jalisco, México, told me corn can be cultivated in almost all climates and almost all soils. She grows corn in her farm in Mexico and she also has grown corn here in the back yard of her San Diego home. My dad also used to grow corn in our back yard. I loved to grab an ear from the plant when it was very tender, I would eat it raw...mmm, so good!
Corn grows quickly, it is easily stored and keeps well for a long time; its preparation is simple and does not require complex equipment to be consumed. There is only one species but corn has a large number of varieties which differ widely from each other. This is reflected in the size of the plants, in the number of leaves and the number of ears, in the size of these, the quantity, the color (white, yellow, red and blue or black) and type of grains. There are as many dishes that can be prepared with corn as there are varieties of it (tortillas, tamales, pinole, sopes, pozole, etc.), even more! I love corn and the many delicious foods I can prepare with it. Pozole is one of my favorites.
This pozole is an unconventional one. It was inspired by a recipe from the book, Al Calor del Sabor, but I use my own sauce and prepared my own nixtamal with blue corn. Using chanterelle mushrooms instead of meat makes this pozole a treat that even my vegetarian husband can enjoy.
1 lb. blue or white nixtamalized corn (I made my own nixtamal from dried corn but it can be bought already made; it is called hominy or pozole)
1 medium white onion
5 garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano)
Salt to taste
3 guajillo dried chiles
5 red New Mexico dried chiles
3 garlic cloves, with peel
1/2 medium white onion
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt to taste
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. chantarelle mushrooms, cleaned and coursely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
Sliced radishes (I used black radishes but any kind will be good)
Shredded green cabbage (or iceberg lettuce)
Chopped red onion
Hot Sauce (your favorite)
Clean the nixtamal, place in a large pot and cover with water. Add onion, garlic, fresh oregano and salt. Slow cook for approximately 2 hours or until the corn has grown in size and has become soft. Add water as needed to keep corn covered.
In the meantime prepare the sauce. Clean the dried chiles, cut in half and remove the seeds and veins. In a dry cast iron skillet toast the chiles about 3 seconds on each side until aromatic. Take care not to burn them or they will be bitter. Soak the chiles in a bowl of boiling water for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile roast the onion and garlic in the same skillet until they are blackened, about 3 minutes. Peel the garlic. Transfer the onion and peeled garlic to a blender, add the oregano, cumin and salt. With tongs lift the chiles from the soaking water and add to the blender. Taste the chile water, if is not bitter add 1/2 cup of this water to the blender plus 1/4 cup of plain water. If the chile water is bitter just add 3/4 cup of plain water. Purée to a smooth sauce. Pass the sauce thought a strainer or a food mill into a bowl and set aside.
In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms until well caramelized. Add the sauce and cook for a couple of minutes. Removed the onion, garlic and sprigs of oregano from the nixtamal and discard. Add the cooked nixtamal with its water to the mushroom mixture. Correct seasoning and cook together for about 10 more minutes until all flavors had incorporated.
Serve hot topped with desired garnishes.