Pressure Cooker Pozole

pot all together

Pozole is an ancient pre-Colombian corn stew, made with corn kernels that have been soaked in mineral lime. The soaking makes the skins slip off and frees up niacin in the corn to be absorbed by the body. It’s much more nutritional than regular corn. You’ll find it as hominy in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery and it is pureed into a paste to make the masa that fills tamales. I was interested in making a recipe that I’d found on Serious Eats for a pressure cooker chicken enchilada sauce. However, I didn’t want to go through the handwork of making the enchiladas and I was in a stew mood. Check out that recipe and click onward to see how I pulled it together.

The key to this recipe is the pressure cooker. If you lack one, give yourself an hour of cooking instead of fifteen minutes under pressure. What enticed me about this was the recipe’s use of existing liquids in the vegetables instead of making a big stock – the promise was a highly flavorful sauce to mix with hominy.

First, there’s a lot of chopping work to do beforehand.


Ever find yourself making a weeknight recipe and discover that you actually have all the ingredients on hand?!?! I found this jalapeno hiding in the back of the fridge and was elated.

tomatoes and peppers

Four tomatoes go into the pot, seeds and skin and cores and all, along with two ancho chiles. I had wanted to learn more about chiles and this was a good reason to experiment. Ancho chiles are not spicy; they smell more of chocolate and raisins. They’re phenomenal to work with. If you have a Mexican grocery nearby, they will be about a third of the price there versus your grocery.

pot all together

Everything got loaded up and put under pressure for fifteen minutes, just like the recipe said. Sure enough, the chicken was cooked and tender afterward. I pureed it and strained it, thinking I’d need to thin it down after, but the texture was already great. I ended up shredding the chicken and putting that and the hominy into the pot. I served with cilantro and cream on the side.Danielle with bowl

Danielle liked the stew and I think we’ll make it again.

What worked:

  • This did come together pretty fast, and the sauce forms only from the vegetables and a little bit of stock.
  • It had a rich and hearty flavor and still had a bit of nuance to it
  • I thought that it might be too spicy, but this turned out to be a good level of heat – and a level that died off quickly after eating.

What I’d do differently next time:

  • Pressure cooking really annihilated the delicate flavors. I’d add the cilantro and probably powdered coriander after cooking and before pureeing.
  • The chicken was tender but not fall-apart; if I were making this for enchiladas, I’d pressure-cook for another five minutes.
  • The chicken gives off a decent amount of gelatin-rich juices while it rests; next time, I’ll rest them in a bowl and not a cutting board so I can re-combine that liquid into the stew.

Vegetarian/vegan variant

You can make this same stew and it’ll turn out thick and hearty if you simply omit the chicken. The hominy gives enough bulk on its own to vary the textures and feel interesting. We cubed up a ripe avocado in the pozole at the table and if you’re not a sour cream person, this will still give you a luxe, cooling feeling and texture change.