Nothing remedies a mildly nippy Phoenician fall like a rich, spicy bowl of pozole.
928 E. Pierce St., Phoenix
For generations, Mexican moms have delighted their familias with pozole, a hearty stew made from pork and hominy that originated with the ancient Aztecs. Now Valley chefs are doing the same favor for their devotees. At Doug Robson’s reincarnated Gallo Blanco, executive chef Carlos Diaz makes pozole rojo ($8, pictured) by brining pork overnight and then cooking the meat with corn-like hominy, onion, garlic and oregano. Diaz blanches and purées guajillo and ancho chiles and adds the medium-hot mixture to the broth. “That’s where the (red) color and flavor comes from,” he says. Overflowing with chunks of fork-tender pork, the pozole is topped with the traditional Mexico City garnish of crunchy shredded cabbage, raw onion, radish slices and cilantro. Diaz also makes pozole con vegetables ($8), a meatless rendition with garlic-infused vegetable broth brimming with wok-sautéed seasonal vegetables.
Three Valley locations
At Los Taquitos, pozole ($6) is only available on the weekends, but it’s well worth the wait. The local, family-owned eatery pumps out authentic, crimson, chile-spiked broth bulked up with weighty chunks of pork and al dente hominy for the win. While the oil-slicked broth isn’t excessively spicy, the chile flavor shines through and doesn’t overpower the dish. In Mexico, pozole is traditionally served on special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, weddings and other celebrations – but Phoenicians can get Los Taquitos’ soul-satisfying elixir every weekend. Heads up: Call ahead, because sometimes they run out.
5819 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
Cuff’s pozole ($12) is a nontraditional variation of the classic Mexican recipe that adds an Asian twist, according to general manager Zach Willekens. On the Latin end, the kitchen simmers a tomato-based broth with roasted red bell peppers, garlic, onions and chipotle peppers with a splash of white wine before puréeing and adding hominy for texture. Then the chefs make an Asian detour to fulfill the pork part of the equation: pot stickers. “We smoke our own pork that’s hand-pulled and mixed with cotija cheese and hot sauce. Then we wrap it in a pot sticker and flash-fry,” Willekens says. The unusual pairing makes for a pleasing soup that’s reminiscent of a warm gazpacho, but the five crunchy pot stickers filled with smoky and tender pulled pork steal the show in this pozole-fied collision of cultures.
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