I know it’s pretty warm right now to be cooking anything in the kitchen, but as long as you leave the smoked serrano chilies to the end, it’s a perfect recipe to do with your Instapot. I have to admit I resisted the Instapot for the first few years of its popularity. Partly because I was not exposed to pressure cookers in my childhood—which is mainly because my Mom had a favorite recipe she made in the pressure cooker and one day it blew up. All over the kitchen. My older sister remembers the incident, but she’s 3 years older than I am. By the time I had a memory big enough to keep anything but Good Humor ice cream bars, Mom was over the pressure cooker.
But Instantpots, I’ve learned, have a few advantages for game cooks. (Well, for any cook, but particularly game cooks, since we can’t go out and buy wild pig tv dinners that cook in the microwave, or little plastic containers of pheasant Waldorf salad. If we want to eat it, we have to cook it.
Enter the Instapot. It not only cooks fast, but can be operated anywhere there’s an electric plug. And it operates without our babysitting it. Obviously I’ve become a fan. But as my niece Jennifer warned me, if you’re making a spicy dish, it’s best to add the hot stuff AFTER the Instapot does its stuff.
Same here. Add all the spices to the pozole, except for the smoked serrano peppers. Save those until the end, after you’ve released the steam and opened the lid. While serrano peppers aren’t the hottest flavor in the chili world, they vary. All chilies vary. Mine were labeled 8,000-30,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale (SHS), which is lower than habaneros, but a very wide range. If you’ve ever grown chilies, you know hot dry summers are only one factor that can make this year’s jalapenos hotter than last year’s.
So, before you go ladling chili powders in the pot (Instapot or Dutch oven) by the tablespoon, do taste them. These smoked serranos, for instance? John and I both sniffed the bag, and thought they were gentle, sweet and smoky. When I ground them in the spice grinder, and opened the lid, I didn’t sneeze. Almost heaven. But in the pozole, they still acted like the peppers they are.
Kwik Red Wild Pig Pozole Recipe
Yields: 2 quarts/8 cups
Last Christmas my friend Jeff John sent me a lovely little present. It was a tiny box, but inside were 2 baggies of smoked chilies from The Spice & Tea Shoppe (www.thespiceandteashoppe.com 775-470-5813). It was one of those little baggies that inspired me to find a recipe, and what piqued my interest was pozole, a very traditional Mexican dish. This is not the traditional version. For that you need to slow cook a pork shoulder, in water and aromatic spices, then tear it apart to add to the hominy, pork juices and spices. Here I’m taking a short cut. Neither John nor I shoot the pig pigs anymore, so the wild pig meat in our freezer is very tender. I chose to take advantage of that, along with Jeff’s gift of a slightly sweet, earthy, gently smoked, mild-to-medium heat chili. For both John and I this was a perfect blend of exotic and comfort food. PS: Pozole is usually served with an assortment of raw chopped cilantro, sliced radish or green cabbage and lemon/lime wedges at the table.
- ¼ cup sweet paprika
- 4 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder
- 2-4 tablespoons oil
- 2 pounds chopped wild pig meat
- 2 cups sliced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons diced garlic
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) golden hominy
- 4 cups pork/chicken broth
- 1½ teaspoons ground smoked serrano chili peppers
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a jar, close it tightly and give it a good shake to mix. Now set that aside. In a 3-quart Dutch oven, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then lightly brown the pork chunks until golden, in 2 to 3 batches, dividing the oil and meat both, about 3-5 minutes each. (Add a teaspoon or two of oil as needed.) Transfer the meat to a soup bowl, then add the chopped onion and garlic to the pot. (Add a teaspoon of oil as needed.) Continue cooking until the onions get soft. Return the meat to the pot, add all of the paprika/oregano/cumin/onion powder spice mixture to the meat/onions/garlic, add the hominy, and give the pot a good stir.
- Raise the heat to high, and add the pork/chicken broth to the pozole to deglaze the pot, stirring up the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the heat up to high until the soup comes to a simmer, then turn to low. Add the ground smoked serrano chili pepper to the pozole: first 1 teaspoon, stir well and then taste. Then the rest, stir well and taste. Keep simmering for about 45 minutes, uncovered, until the hominy and meat are tender.
This recipe is from my new book, The Totally Wild Bowl, available hunting season 2021. (45 venison recipes, 10 bear, 15 upland, 15 waterfowl and 15 wild pig–from traditional American to spicy chilies and everything in between.)