Since being in the healthcare segment of the culinary world, I’ve worked for three different directors. All had strengths in different areas. Jim Mcgrody’s is his culinary passion, and trust me, having a classically trained chef as a Foodservice Director has its advantages. This time it was a very unique soup special Jim made….Posole pronounced (po-SO-lay). After knowing Jim for about 4 years now, I’ve know him to be extremely passionate about authentic Mexican food, in particular this flavorful pork and hominy stew that he makes frequently for our retail venues. Just recently in NYC, I witnessed one of Jim’s “Nirvana Moments” when he tasted one of his best mole (mo-lay) sauces ever. He let everyone in the restaurant know just how good it was, from the manager, right down to the bus boy who barely spoke English.
This time I took some pics of his work along the way, because it’s an extremely unusual thing to be served in a hospital cafe. Jim learned to make this by watching some of his cooks earlier in his career while living in the southwest. If you any research on Posole, you’ll find that it’s classically a celebratory dish in Mexican culture, which is usually eaten on Christmas Eve.
First thing, he tapped in to the dried chiles, and after toasting them in a hot skillet, he re-hyrdrated them in chicken stock, before pureeing them. This is the base of the soup, as it adds a dark rich flavor with a bit of heat to the broth.
The next key ingredient he was working with was the hominy, an ingredient not readily stocked in our kitchen, but is readily available at your local ethnic market. Luckily, our business manager Paul Berens had some time that morning to clear out the shelves at the local market.
Other key ingredients to this stew include Mexican oregano, toasted cumin, onions, garlic, and fresh cilantro. As Jim crafted the stew by adding one ingredient at a time to the kettle, he added layers of depth and flavor. While the hearty broth bubbled away, he then started to trim the pork loin, which would be added to the broth to braise until ultra tender.
After adding the pork, it cooked away for about 40 more minutes, as all the flavors married together. About an hour later, he had it all set up on the cafe, along with the traditional garnish of shaved radish, shredded cabbage, cilantro, avocado, and fresh lime. It was delicious, and our customers really enjoyed the authentic soup prepared that day. Oh and by the way…I had two bowls!