Photo by Caitlin Abrams
A bowl of pozole from Salsa A La Salsa
When Lorenzo Ariza and his wife opened Salsa a la Salsa in Loring Park in 2003, their children insisted their mom’s pozole (a celebratory stew made with hominy, garlic, and chiles) be shared with the Minneapolis masses.
“She’s been making it forever—always for holiday parties,” Ariza says. “When we opened the first restaurant my kids told me, ‘You have to put that pozole on the menu.’” (Note to parents: You know you’re good when your kids implore you to share your signature dishes with complete strangers.)
In 2006 Ariza opened his second restaurant, A La Salsa, in Midtown Global Market, and another Salsa a La Salsa location in Uptown followed in early 2015. Each of the family’s restaurants has its own nuances, but each boasts that spicy, broth-y, comforting bowl of hominy goodness—perfect for a winter gathering, and easy to make in big batches—on the menu.
Ariza explains that pozole is usually made with pork, and can be white, red, or green depending on the region and which chiles, add-ins, and garnishes are used. All versions include hominy (large kernels of field corn, aka maize) that’s been dried and treated by an alkali process called nixtamalization.
Salsa a la Salsa’s version is white and made with chicken, since that’s what Ariza’s kids liked. It gets extra flavor thanks to the addition of a house-made guajillo salsa. He serves the whole thing alongside a crispy tostada topped with beans, lettuce, queso fresco, onion, tomato, and crema, plus a little chopped white onion, dried oregano, and a house dried-chile blend for garnish.
If you follow the recipe below, you’ll end up with extra guajillo salsa, but Ariza says you’ll definitely dip into your extra stash. “We use it with our tamales, our barbacoa . . . it’s a good standard sauce that can be used for many, many things.” If you’re feeling generous, package up the extra guajillo in tiny mason jars and send it home with your guests!
Shopping pro-tip: Buy the dried chiles at a Mexican grocery store, or in the Mexican aisle at larger supermarkets. Look for hominy with the canned veggies or in the Mexican aisle.
Salsa a la Salsa’s Chicken Pozole
Makes 12-15 servings
1 1/2 whole chickens
(about 5 to 6 lbs. total)
1 onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
5 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup salt
Chicken stock, bouillon, or consommé (optional)
3 30-ounce cans hominy
1 cup guajillo salsa (see recipe below)
Boil all ingredients together in 3 1/2 quarts of water. When chicken is fully cooked (about 45 minutes), remove the meat and set it aside to cool.
Strain the broth and return to the pot over medium-high heat. When chicken becomes cool to the touch, shred or pull the meat from the bone and set aside.
Bring broth to a boil. Drain and rinse the hominy, and add to the broth after it’s boiling. Add shredded chicken and guajillo salsa. Stir, bring to a boil again, and simmer for 25 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and/or chicken stock, bouillon, or consommé.
Makes 3 cups
5 dried guajillo chiles
1 dried ancho chile
1-2 whole cloves garlic
5 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Put all ingredients in a pot with just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil and cook until chiles are rehydrated. Turn off heat, remove bay leaf, and let cool slightly. Add to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.