The Gecko Says!

New Mexican Posole

(The way I make it, and I spell it with an S not a Z)


Posole is a Christmas dish that brings back more fond memories than I can catalogue. From being at my grandmother’s house and eventually at my own home every Christmas Eve, just the smell of it cooking reminds me of family, friends, and laughter along with full stomachs.

It’s a traditional New Mexican dish made primarily with something called Nixtamal. Everyone else calls it hominy.

Nixtamal is an Aztec word to describe corn that has been partially cooked and soaked with calcium hydroxide, otherwise referred to as cal or lime. Calcium hydroxide is simply the dust that results from scraping a limestone rock. The Aztec would grind corn against the limestone found in the riverbeds, and hence discovered the benefit of the interaction of this natural element with corn. The process of nixtamalization was first developed in Mesoamerica where maize was originally cultivated. There is no precise date for when the technology was developed, but the earliest evidence of nixtamalization is found in Guatamala’s southern coast, with equipment dating from 1200-1500BCE.

Nixtamal can be ground into masa (a corn dough) for making tortillas or similar patted disk (finely ground) or tamales (coarsely ground), or can be kept in its whole form to make Posole, otherwise known as hominy. [1]

So there you have your food history lesson for the day. Alton Brown would be proud of me.

The Nixtamal is rinsed and cleaned and then added to some browned pork, onions and spices to create a simple but delicious food that’s not quite a soup and not quite a stew, either. But it’s so filling and delicious you’ll wish you had a second stomach. So let’s dig into this dish, as it were.

Key to this dish: Patience. When using uncooked Nixtamal (hominy) it can take between 8 – 11 hours to cook completely. Be patient, stir often, turn the Posole “bottom to top”, add water when needed and it will be well worth it.

Prep time: 45 Minutes

Cook time: 8 -11 hours if using uncooked Nixtamal. 2 – 3 hours if using pre-cooked, canned hominy


One package (3lbs) of Nixtamal (uncooked, canned Hominy can also be used) 5lbs pork loin sliced and cut into 1” cubes. 1 Onion, finely chopped 1 Tablespoon finely chopped or minced garlic 1 Bay leaf ½ Teaspoon Cumin 1 Tablespoon red Chile Powder 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt 8 cups chicken stock (either canned or made with bouillon) 8 cups water 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil

  1. Nixtamal – Because most Nixtamal is coated with lime, it must be thoroughly rinsed to remove as much lime as possible. Place Nixtamal from package into a large bowl and fill with lukewarm water. Knead the Nixtamal with both hands, scrubbing it. Drain water and replace with fresh water. This should be done at least three times to ensure the lime is completely rinsed off.
  2. Let Nixtamal sit in clean water until ready to put into the pot.
  3. Pork – Take your pork loin (pork loin is better because it has less fat than a pork shoulder or pork butt) and trim as much fat as possible. Cut into slices and then cut those slices into about 1” chunks. These cook more thoroughly than larger pieces.
  4. Add Canola oil to a large stock pot. Heat until oil is shimmering.
  5. Add pork to the pot and brown evenly. Add salt, pepper, and red chile powder.
  6. Once the pork is browned, add onion, garlic and stir well. Reduce heat to prevent scorching.
  7. Drain Nixtamal thoroughly and add to the stock pot. Pour over browned pork and stir.
  8. Add 8 cups of chicken stock and 8 cups of water and Bay Leaf. Stir well.
  9. Increase heat to a rolling boil for one hour, stirring the pot “bottom to top” to prevent scorching on the bottom. Add more water when necessary. Cover.
  10. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Stir the pot “bottom to top” about every 30 minutes. As the Nixtamal cooks it will “pop” and look like wet popcorn. Add water as needed.

Note: Do not let the water level get below the Nixtamal. Try to keep it about 1 -2 inches above the Posole.

  1. Cook about 8 – 11 hours, stirring often. Once the Nixtamal is soft to chew, it is done (it will look like wet popcorn). Serve hot, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm flour tortillas, red chile sauce or roasted and peeled green chiles for extra heat and flavor. Enjoy![1] Text borrowed from

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