Melting pot menus: quick posole

Though I know many serious foodies (or foodies who take themselves too seriously) harbor a not-so-secret disdain for Rachael Ray, I admit to being a fan. Sure, she shouts at the camera, but I appreciate her approach: uncomplicated, home-cooked food that you can get on the table with maximum flavor and a minimum of fuss. No coordinated tablescapes, no canned frosting–just good food that brings your family together.

Here’s a quick version of a traditional Mexican stew that was happily slurped up at our table. A certain eight-year-old even had seconds. It’s comfort food for a cold winter night. If you like chicken noodle soup, it’s not much of a stretch to try this hearty stew. I like the balance of the smoky pork and cumin flavors with the brightness of the tomatillo salsa and lime juice. And if you can believe it, I streamlined Rachael Ray’s recipe (she makes her own salsa from fresh tomatillos, while I just use jarred salsa)!

The aforementioned eight-year-old is making a family coat of arms for a school project this week. All by himself, he decided our family motto should be: “Never underestimate the power of food!” It’s reassuring to know that family values really are passed on at the dinner table.

Quick Posole
adapted from Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin chops, diced in 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 T. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano (or fresh, if you have it)

1 tsp. dried thyme (again, fresh if you have it)

1 cup green salsa
1 large (28-oz.) can hominy, rinsed and drained
6 cups chicken broth
2 limes

Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, broken tortilla chips or baked tortilla strips

In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the pork in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pork is mostly browned on all sides, add the onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the cumin,oregano, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the salsa, hominy and broth. Bring the stew to a simmer and let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes (or more…just put the lid on the pot so the liquid doesn’t all cook away). Just before serving, stir in the juice of one or two limes, to your taste.

Ladle the stew into bowls and let everyone choose their own toppings!

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