This recipe was adapted from Chef Richard Sandoval’s book Modern Mexican Flavors (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2002). The original calls for traditional hominy, but for summer, Sandoval says, fresh corn, grilled right on the cob, makes a delightful substitution.
The smoke and spice flavors of the pozole are best mirrored by the rich, smoky flavors of a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir; recommended producers include Loring, Sea Smoke and Au Bon Climat
For the pozole
8 ears fresh corn, shucked
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup chopped white onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
4 cups duck or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon honey
For the duck and cabbage salad
1 cup shredded green cabbage
¼ cup shredded red radish (about 4 radishes), plus additional radishes, sliced, for garnish (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless duck breast halves, with skin
Chile powder, for garnish (optional)
To make the posole: Grill the shucked corn on a preheated charcoal grill, turning it a few times, until the kernels start to color. Remove the ears from the grill and allow them to cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape the kernels off the cobs with a knife and set aside. Discard the cobs.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the chilies and sauté for 30 to 45 seconds, or until slightly darkened. Add 2 cups of the stock and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the chilies are softened.
Pour the chile mixture into a blender and purée. Strain the purée through a medium-mesh sieve back into the saucepan, pressing on the solids with the back of a ladle or rubber spatula. Discard the solids in the sieve.
Add the corn to the saucepan along with the bay leaf and remaining stock and keep warm.
To make the salad: In a large bowl, stir together the cabbage, radish, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin-side down, and sear for about 5 minutes, until crisp. Turn and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until cooked through. Transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice each breast diagonally across the grain into 3 thin slices.
Add the honey to the pozole and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the pozole among 4 shallow soup bowls. Spoon ¼ cup of the cabbage salad into the center of each. Then, in each bowl, arrange 3 pieces of duck breast angled upright around the cabbage. If desired, garnish with radish slices and sprinkle the rims of the bowls with chile powder. Serve.