Earlier tonight I posted on Twitter about what we had for dinner — a dish I described as “posole”, with intentional scarequotes. The explanation for why those quotes are there is just a bit too long for Twitter and HOLY CRAP I HAVE A BLOG AGAIN, so let’s go!
Growing up as a kid in the Midwest in the late '70s and then the '80s meant you ended up with a very … distinct concept of some dishes. A concept usually heavily influenced by the contents of Good Housekeeping magazine, at least in my case. One dish my mother would make with some regularity was called “goulash”, and, until I got to college, I thought this dish was actually what goulash was. It was simple: ground beef, canned stewed tomatoes, and elbow macaroni, all cooked together in a skillet. Essentially, DIY Hamburger Helper.
(Aside: doing a bit of Wikipedia diving in advance of writing this post, I discovered that American goulash is apparently a whole thing! TIL.)
(Aside 2: This also seems like a good time to mention, just in case, that I love my Mom and she’s a great cook who taught me a whole lot of what I know about making tasty stuff in a kitchen. ❤)
The “posole” we had for dinner tonight (loosely based on this recipe) has about the same relationship to actual posole as my Mom’s goulash does to actual Hungarian goulash. That said, it’s fast, easy, flexible, and it makes a ton of leftovers. I’ll frequently make it for a Sunday or Monday dinner because that sorts out my work-from-home lunches for the rest of the week.
If you’d like to give it a try, here’s my version:
- 1-2 pounds of meat (works with many things: ground sausage, ground beef, tonight I used the leftover chicken from last night’s roast bird, it’s flexible, really. You could also skip the meat if you wanted a vegetarian version)
- one 14oz can crushed tomatoes
- two 14oz can diced tomatoes (i like the fire-roasted kind, with garlic, or chipotle, or green chilis – but plain is fine too; again, anything works here, the recipe is flexible)
- one 14oz can black beans
- two 14oz cans hominy (this is the only actual crucial ingredient! the hominy has to be there or it’s just some random other knockoff, it’s no longer a posole knockoff)
- (optional) taco or chili seasoning, or at least some salt and pepper
- (optional) a beer
- In a large (e.g., 5.5qt) pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, (if necessary) brown whatever meat you’re using. (Just reheat the meat if it’s already cooked. If you’re using sausage or beef, don’t drain the fat, it makes things taste good and fills you up, just leave that ish in there.)
- Add whatever seasoning you’re adding, to taste. Make sure the meat is well coated. (Add maybe more than you think you need, because it’s gonna get diluted out as you go.)
- Open all the canned tomatoes, dump 'em in, and stir things up. If necessary, reduce heat to keep things at a simmer.
- Open the beans and hominy, drain, and rinse until all the freaky bubbles are gone. Dump 'em in too. Stir it all up again.
- If you’re gonna dump a beer in, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, if you think you need more liquid in the picture, throw in a bean can or two of water. There are no wrong answers here, just keep things mixing.
- Simmer for at least 15 minutes (if you’re gonna go a lot longer than 30 minutes for whatever reason, you probably want to cover it up and reduce the heat so it won’t dry out too much and start to stick to the pot). Stir occasionally to help flavors blend. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve with shredded Jack cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and/or tortilla chips, to taste.
Don’t try to make it fancy: if you’re tempted to go to the trouble to chop up your own tomatoes, or start with soaking dried beans, or dried hominy, or whatever, sit your ass down and find an actual posole recipe (one that should probably start with boiling some dried chilis to make some real red sauce…) and spend the time cooking that.
This recipe is for when you roll in the door at 5pm, drag-ass on a Monday night, and just want to dump a bunch of stuff from a bunch of cans into a pot and wait for it to heat all the way through. Respect it for what it is, because sometimes that’s what you need.