Missouri River Pozole
This recipe comes from one of our local heroes, Chef Sean Sherman. We loved eating at the Tatanka Truck (hello, bison tamale!), so we were delighted when he published his first cookbook, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, with Twin Cities food writer Beth Dooley. The book won the 2018 Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and it’s exciting to cook from it because it’s one of the first cookbooks, if not the first, to put indigenous foodways — farming techniques, wild food harvesting, hunting and fishing and more — in a modern culinary context. This recipe is no exception.
If you’ve never had pozole before, it’s made with hominy, dried corn that has been treated with an alkali, like lye, to remove its hull and germ. The kernels swell up when you soak them in water or cook them — they look like soft corn nuts. They have a wonderful nutty-sweet corn flavor and a light, chewy texture.
For this soup, we combine hominy with sweet butternut squash, maple syrup and sage. Just before serving, we stir in a mixture of masa and water. The result is a mild soup with a light, butternut and corn sweetness and a sublime texture — it’s so soft and creamy. We love it, but Sherman’s wild rice garnish for the pozole almost steals the show.
In Minnesota, wild rice grows naturally in our Northern lakes and is hand-harvested every fall by Ojibwe tribal members. For the garnish, we pop it — a thing you can only do with wild lake rice — so that it puffs up, crunchy and delightful. We combined it with fresh sage. It’s kind of magic how the herbs and nutty puffs of rice both add a rich depth to soup and pull all its sweet and savory flavors together. Whatever about the Missouri River: this soup tastes like fall in Minnesota.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
For the puffed rice:
1 ½ tablespoons sunflower oil
½ cup wild rice, rinsed
Salt, to taste
For the pozole:
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 29-oz can (or 2 cups flint hominy, soaked overnight)
1 tablespoon sage, chopped, plus more for garnish
4 to 6 cups corn stock* or water
¼ masa or corn flour, mixed in ½ cup water
1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste
Salt, to taste
- To make the puffed rice: Pat the rice with a clean cloth or paper towels so that it’s thoroughly dry.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. When the pot is hot, coat the bottom of the pan with oil, and then add the rice.
- Cover the pan and shake vigorously to coat the wild rice thoroughly.
- Reduce the heat to medium and continue shaking until you can hear the rice popping, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the rice with a little salt, and set it aside.
- To make the pozole: Heat one large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add sunflower oil and squash and cook until the squash is fragrant and starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the hominy and sage and stir to combine. Add the corn stock, bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered until squash is tender and the hominy is cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Slowly stir in the masa and water mixture and simmer until the soup thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with the maple syrup and salt, and then garnish with fresh sage and puffed wild rice.
*You can use the water leftover from boiling sweet corn.