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Three Sisters” Posole
Recipe by Juanell Boyd Devloped for Master Gardeners of Middlesex County, NJ

Makes about 6 quarts

Background Information:Posole is a Native American soup or stew made with field corn that has been soaked in an alkaline solution to make the corn more digestable and nutritious. The treated corn is also called nixtamal or hominy. When ground, the meal from the treated corn is called masa (or grits) and is used to make tortillas or tamales (or grits), depending on the fineness of the grind. Traditionally, lye made from wood ash was used to treat the corn. However, this recipe uses food grade slaked lime or pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) which can be purchased where canning and pickling supplies are sold. The directions that I followed indicated that the hulls from the kernels of corn would separate after the soaking process. With the Aztec Blue Corn from the Master Gardener Three Sisters Garden Plot, that did not happen, but it tasted fine and looked rather more interesting with the hulls on, and of course, the hulls add fiber, so I made the posole with the hulls still on the kernels. Posole is traditionally made with pork, but I also found recipes using lamb or chicken. The use of all of the “three sisters” (corn, beans, and squash) is my adaptation of this dish. This dish is vegetarian friendly, as vegetable broth or chicken broth can be used interchangeably, and corn and beans are “complimentary” proteins in a vegetarian diet. The squash contributes vitamin A and the peppers contribute vitamins A and C. I make my own chicken broth using chicken backs, so there is usually a lot of fat to skim off. I usually freeze some of the chicken fat and use it in place of oil for sauteing for a more intense chicken flavor when I make a soup or stew using the chicken broth. I have a great recipe for vegetable broth using roasted vegetables and dried porcini mushrooms. For the vegetarians in the crowd, I’m going to use the vegetable broth and olive oil for sautéing when I make this for the Master Gardener potluck. I was concerned that the squash or pumpkin might stick to the bottom of the pot, or if stirred frequently to keep it from sticking, it would fall apart, so I roasted it separately for addition to the posole just before serving. Adding the raw squash for the last half hour or so of cooking might also work, but I haven’t tried it, and besides, I really prefer the flavor of roasted squash. It also occurred to me that oven cooking rather than stove-top cooking for the last hour might also solve the problem of keeping the squash intact, and eliminate the step of roasting the squash, but I haven’t tried it. As another alternative for the squash, a pumpkin-shaped squash can be baked and the hot posole can be put into the baked squash for serving. For the Master Gardening Pot Luck, I will use the shelled beans from the Three Sisters garden. As they were not dry when harvested, I blanched and froze them and will not pre-cook them for the posole. There are several varieties, but not a very large quantity, so for the first try, I used dried cannelini beans.

“Three sisters” Posole recipe

Treating the corn (Making the Nixtamal)

1/2 pound field corn kernels
1 quart water
1 T slaked lime

Wash and drain the corn as you would packaged dry beans.

In a 4 quart non-corroding heavy pot (I used Corning Visions Brand cookware), bring the water to a boil.

Gradually stir in the lime until it is all dispersed (it won’t dissolve), then add the corn.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat and let stand several hours or overnight.

Bring the contents back to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 1 hour, and let stand till cool, about another hour.

Drain off the lime water, rinse kernels thoroughly in cool water, drain and set aside. (The lime residue on your cookware can be easily removed with a bit of vinegar on a sponge or dish cloth)


Preparing the beans

1/2 pound dry beans (cannelini work well, but other varieties can be substituted)
1 quart water

Wash and drain the beans.

In a 4 quart heavy pot, bring the water to a boil and add the washed beans.

Bring the contents back to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour.

Time may vary depending on the variety of beans.

Beans will still be quite firm, but can be chewed. Let stand several hours or overnight. Drain and rinse just before adding to the posole.


Roasting the squash or pumpkin

About 3-4 pounds very firm squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into about 1-inch cubes (Seminole pumpkin or calabasa squash works well)
3-4 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Line two 10” x 15” jelly roll pans with foil and spray with PAM. Put about two pounds of squash and 2 T oil in a bowl and toss to coat the squash.

Spread the squash in a single layer in one pan, making sure pieces of squash lie flat and are not touching each other.

Repeat, using second pan. Place both pans in the oven, one above the other about in the middle of the oven.

Bake 20 minutes, then reverse order of pans in the oven and bake about 20 more minutes. Squash should start to brown and there should be no more liquid in the pans.

Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes, and using a rubber spatula, gently remove squash to a plate or baking dish, keeping pieces intact as much as possible. Set aside. Can be made ahead and refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen.


Making the posole

4 T cooking oil
1 large onions, coarsely diced
1 large sweet red, sweet green bell, or sweet frying pepper, coarsely diced
3-4 large cloves garlic, diced or crushed
2 t oregano
2 t ground coriander seed
2 t ground cumin
2 t juniper berries, crushed (or substitute 2 bay leaves)
1 qt chicken or vegetable broth
¼ - ½ of a 7 oz can of Goya canned chipotle peppers in Abodo sauce, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and coursely chopped
salt to taste
2 oz unsweetened chocolate (optional)
The nixtamal (corn) and partially cooked beans as prepared above
The roasted squash or pumpkin, or alternatively, uncooked peeled and diced squash

In a heavy 6-8 quart pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté till they become translucent.

Add the sweet pepper and sauté till peppers soften, then add the garlic, oregano, coriander, cumin, juniper berries or bay leaves, broth, salt, and chipotle peppers.

Bring to a boil, then add the nixtamal (corn), beans, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.

Simmer for about one hour, till beans and corn are tender, but still retain their shape.

If using the optional chocolate, add it at the end of the cooking time and stir till melted and blended in.

May be served right away, but for best flavor, allow to cool and refrigerate for a day before serving. Reheat the posole over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent the corn and beans from sticking. (If using uncooked squash, add for last 30 – 45 minutes, stirring gently to prevent sticking and to prevent squash from disintegrating.)

The roasted squash should not be added till immediately prior to serving and can either be added to the pot for the last few minutes or reheated separately, spooned into individual soup bowls, and topped with the corn, bean and broth mixture.

Alternatively, you can serve the posole in a baked pumpkin shell:
Remove top of a 10-12 pound pumpkin, scrape out seeds and fibers.
Coat inside with ¼ C butter, then dust inside with ½ C sugar.
Bake at 375 F for about an hour. Pumpkin should be tender, but still firm enough to hold its shape. Do not overcook.
Fill with hot posole and return to oven for about 15 minutes.
Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, a lime wedge, and coarsely chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Submitted by Juanell Boyd