Wild Game Recipe: Venison Posole

Photograph by Plamen Petkov

Still have a deer roast in your freezer from last season? Here’s a delicious reason to thaw it.

Posole (pronounced poh-SOH-lay) is a Mexican stew that dates back centuries. It’s traditionally made by simmering pork with chiles and hominy (hulled corn kernels), but adding venison to the pot lends the stew a richer and more vibrant character. The chef and cookbook writer David Tanis calls for a combination of pork shoulder and pork belly in his fantastic recipe for posole, which we’ve adapted here by swapping in venison for the shoulder but retaining the unctuous pork belly. If you can’t find belly, just use some fatty pork shoulder. Dried hominy is widely available in the Latin section of supermarkets; if canned is your only option, however, drain and rinse it and add during the final half hour of cooking.

Ingredients
2 lb. venison, cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks
11⁄2 lb. dried hominy (posole), soaked overnight in cold water
3 oz. dried red New Mexico chiles
2 lb. fresh pork belly, cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks
1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups finely diced white onion, soaked in ice water, for garnish
Lime wedges and chopped cilantro,
for garnish

Instructions
1. Drain the soaked hominy and put it into a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer briskly for 1 hour.

2. While the hominy is cooking, toast the dried chiles by placing them in a cast-iron skillet over high heat and shaking and turning them until slightly charred and fragrant. Slit the chiles lengthwise with a knife (you may want to wear gloves) and remove and discard the seeds and stems. Place the chiles in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool. Transfer the chiles to a blender and purée to a smooth paste, adding just enough of the cooking water so the purée has the consistency of a milkshake.

3. Generously season the pork belly and venison with salt and pepper. When the hominy has cooked for 1 hour, add the meats, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and cumin. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches and return to a simmer. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for about 3 hours, occasionally skimming fat from the surface and adding more water as needed. Test the meat for doneness; it will be very tender. The hominy will be soft but still chewy.

4. Stir in the chile purée and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls, and allow guests to garnish their bowls with the chopped white onions, cilantro, and lime wedges.
Serves 8 to 10

Drink Pairing: Old Fashioned
A dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo, would be good company here. Or bust out the aged tequila for a cocktail called a Oaxaca Old Fashioned. Here's how to mix one:

Stir together 11⁄2 oz. of reposado tequila, 1⁄2 oz. of mezcal, a dash or two of Angostura bitters, and a teaspoon of agave nectar (or simple syrup) with ice, and garnish with an orange peel.