Today in A Saucier’s Take on Green Pork Posole… we will take a culinary classic and meld it together with a classic home cooked Mexican dish.
Posole is a beautiful home cooked and quick Mexican cuisine. Usually quick, relatively speaking, a broth cooked in an hour. I LOVE it.. I LOVE the flavors. But I am a lover of stocks, sauces and beautiful rich soups so it was time for me to put the Saucier’s take on this classic.
So today, we tackle phase 1. The broth!
The heart and soul of most classic French soups is the stock. I am doing a derivation of the classic brown beef or veal stock to meet my needs. I am replacing the classic beef knuckle or leg bones with a good, meaty pork “neck bone” from a local Mexican market. These consist of rib ends, chine bones and split spinal bones. As with any brown stock, you must roast the bones. You are bringing the maillard reaction into play. What is the Maillard reaction you say? I am glad you asked!!!
The Maillard reaction is a culinary phenomenon that occurs when proteins in meat are heated to temperatures of 310°F or higher, causing them to turn brown. Named for the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who discovered the process at the start of the 20th century, the Maillard reaction is similar to the process of caramelization, where carbohydrates like sugar turn brown when heated.±
Thank you Louis-Camille for your assistance tonight.
I digress. I tend to do that. Digress? Oh yeah! Stocks! The classic Escoffier brown stock includes beef or veal knuckle bones or joint bones, mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery) tomatoes or tomato paste for acid and fresh herbs and dried spices such as parsley, thyme bay leaves and black pepper corns, which is then roasted or caramelized to a nice golden brown to bring out the bold flavors, with a splash of red wine and enough water to cover the whole beautiful mess. We are turning that on its head with the BROTH that we are making here. Time for another culinary term:
Bit of Culinary Knowledge:
Broth vs. Stock. A stock is a flavorful liquid made from bones, aromatic vegetables, water, herbs and spices. Stocks are the basis for many classic cuisine dishes and are generally not served on their own. Why bones? Bones and the connective tissue that surrounds those bones contain large volumes of collagen, a protein which will, when exposed to simmering water over a period of time, dissolve from the bones and tissues giving the stock its body and richness. A good stock, when chilled will be thick and resemble a gelatin dessert. A broth is a flavorful liquid made from bones AND MEAT, aromatic vegetables, water, herbs and spices. Broths can be components of a dish OR can stand alone as a dish on their own.
On track again. The broth we are making today replaces the beef bones with the afore mentioned pork neck bones with a considerable amount of attached meat. The classic mirepoix is being transformed into a sofrito.
Sofrito is the secret ingredient in many Latin Caribbean dishes and it’s so easy to make. It’s a versatile, aromatic puree of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic. ±±
To the onion, carrot and celery combination, we add poblano chilies and garlic. So while not meeting a classic definition of a sofrito, as it does not contain tomatoes, nor is it blended, it’s also no longer a mirepoix.
Next, we are replacing the parsley stems and fresh thyme with more classic Mexican ingredients of oregano sprigs and coriander. I happen to have cilantro on the back end of its productive life and is therefore now going to seed. And yes, those seeds are coriander seeds. Completely different flavors. With the fresh coriander seed, you still get the hint of cilantro with a very bright coriander flavor. The peppercorns are enhanced with dried coriander seed and dried cumin seeds as well as the fresh bay leaf that we have in our back yard garden. It’s pretty amazing that fresh bay leaf actually tastes like something more than notebook paper!
Next replacement? We are making a green posole, and one of the basics of that is the tomatillo salsa that is added to the soup at service. We are incorporating tomatillo in place of the tomato for acidity. This will bring that signature tartness of the tomatillo to a bold flavored broth.
Last but not least. Wine. The tannic and fruity red wine is replaced by a dry white wine. We still cook the alcohol out but we have that little extra sweetness, without coloring the broth.
So now, as I type away on this bad boy, we will let it cook overnight for further processing tomorrow. A good brown stock needs a MINIMUM of 8 hours with those thick bones. The pork bones are not near so big, so you could get away with less cook time. We will give it the full time to extract that maximum flavor from the vegetables and meat and as much of the collagen as possible from the bones. One last important factor with a stock. We do NOT boil stocks! We simmer stocks, starting with cold water to more slowly dissolve the proteins without setting them, and bring up to just a simmer. How much water? Just enough to cover.
On that note? It’s been a long day and my posole broth has several more hours to brew!