Vegan pozole rojo served with cilantro, onion, and radishes.
Originally, pozole was considered a sacred dish in the ancient times of the Aztecs. The dish predates the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. It was consumed during a religious ceremony for the god Xipe Tótec. At first, the dish consisted of corn, water, and human flesh. It is said that Xipe Tótec fed his first people with his own flesh. Because of this, the Aztecs practiced human self-sacrificing rituals in their ceremonial consumption of pozole. The dish has evolved through regions in Mexico. There are three varieties of pozole— green, white, and red that are traditionally made with either chicken or pork.
This veganized pozole recipe is a great alternative to the traditional chicken or pork versions. The recipe calls for similar ingredients, so the authentic flavors are still there. You simply need to substitute the meat with a meat substitute. I recently tried this recipe in preparation for the holidays, and I was fully satisfied with the taste. Of course, since there is no meat in the dish, it is not going to taste completely like the meat versions.
In the past, I have tried substituting in mushrooms, jackfruit, and beans. All three make for great alternatives to meat. Mushrooms offer a great umami flavor and their texture resembles the texture of meat. Cremini mushrooms and portobello work well. Jackfruit is a popular meat alternative due to its ability to shred like meat. I recommend using canned jackfruit in brine. Avoid using fresh jackfruit, as it won’t work or taste like the brined jackfruit. There are a variety of beans and all work well. The dish becomes more of a bean soup, but the authentic flavors of pozole remain. The added benefit of subsisting in beans, is that it offers more fiber and protein than mushrooms or jackfruit.
For this recipe, I decided to try substituting in Daring Plant Chicken Pieces, a meat alternative that tastes similar to chicken. The flavor of the meat substitute helps to add more flavor and a level of depth to the dish that tastes similar to a traditional pozole. It is also high in protein in comparison to mushrooms and jackfruit, so that is a plus.
In traditional pozole, chicken and pork are cooked at a very low heat, allowing for the meat to become tender but also for the broth to gain an intense amount of meaty flavor. The Daring Plant Chicken Pieces help to add a meaty flavor to the broth, but I also decided to use plant based “chicken” broth cubes for the pozole to have an intense and rich flavor.
The name pozole derives from the Náhuatl word “pozolli”, which means foam and refers to the foam produced when the corn is boiled. The corn used in the dish comes from a variety of dried corn (maize in Spanish) that have been soaked in an alkali solution of lye or slaked lime. You can buy it dried or in cans, in supermarkets with international isles or in Mexican grocery stores. I used canned hominy for this recipe, but you can substitute fresh hominy too.
Pasilla-acnho chiles are dried poblano peppers. The origin of the poblano can be traced back to the state of Puebla, Mexico. Ancho chiles offer a sweet and chocolatey flavor, slightly similar to raisins. Guajillo chilies are dried Mirasol peppers. Guajillo chilies are the most commonly used dried chilies in Mexican gastronomy. Similar to ancho chiles, these chilies are sweet but are stronger in heat. They have a flavor reminiscent of tart berries with tangy notes and smoky undertones.
3 tbsp olive oil
3 pkg Daring Plant Chicken Pieces
1 can Juanita’s Mexican Style Hominy, rinsed and drained
3 large bay leaves
1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 bulb garlic, peeled
4 Not- Chick’n Bouillon Cubes
8 whole guajillo chilies
3 whole ancho chilies
1 heaping tbsp of oregano
8 cups of water
Green cabbage, shredded
Yellow onion, diced
Red radish, sliced or diced
Salsa macha or chile flakes
Bring to boil 8 cups of water in a large pot. Throw in the garlic, onion, bay leaves, bullion cubes, and Daring plant chicken pieces. Add salt to taste. Cook the plant chicken pieces for about 7-8 minutes, or until soft, and then remove them from the pot. Shred the pieces and set them aside.
In a separate pot, bring to boil water. Stem and deseed the dried chilies then blanch them until soft and transfer them to a blender. Return to the original pot, remove the garlic and onion, and transfer them to the same blender. Add the oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the water from the pot to the blender and puree until smooth.
In another pot, drizzle in olive oil over medium heat. Add the chili paste and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Return to the original pot, and mix in the chili paste and hominy. Cover the pot and lower the flame to a medium heat, for about 20 minutes or until the hominy is fully cooked. Mix in the shredded plant chicken pieces about 5 minutes before the hominy is ready.
When the pozole is fully ready, add in your toppings and serve with some tostadas. You’ll enjoy every last bite.