The Best Posole Recipe

James Beard–nominated chef Charles Dale shares the secret to perfecting this Southwestern staple.

When winter arrives in Santa Fe, the air is crisp and the Sangre de Cristo mountains snowcapped. This is the season when posole, the Spanish name for both hominy (dried corn kernels) and a stew made with it, becomes a staple in the Southwest. And at Terra, the restaurant at the 57-acre Encantado resort, the French-born James Beard Award–nominated chef Charles Dale makes the city’s best. “I use dried posole instead of canned for a pleasant al dente mouthfeel,” he says, “and ham hocks instead of the more traditional pork for a Southwestern smokiness.” At 198 State Rd. 592; 505-946-5800;

West-of-the-Pecos Winter Posole

Serves four

8 oz. dried white-corn posole (available at
3 lbs. smoked ham hocks (about 4 pieces)
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle in adobo marinade)
Small bunch fresh sage (about 1/8 oz.) wrapped in a 12-inch square of cheesecloth
1 1/4 lbs. good-quality smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Salt to taste
4 oz. unsalted corn tortilla chips
Small bunch of cilantro, chopped

1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in an 8-quart stock pot and add 4 quarts of water.

2. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the posole is al dente.

3. Take out the ham hocks and set aside to cool. Remove the two chipotle peppers and discard.

4. Skim the surface of the broth with a spoon to remove any fat. Return the pot to the heat and simmer until reduced by about one-third.

5. Meanwhile, pull off the meat from the ham hocks and cut into bite-sized pieces; discard the bones and fat.

6. Add the diced ham and the ham hock pieces to the broth, and return to a simmer. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary.

7. Place about 10 corn tortilla chips in the bottom of each bowl, ladle the posole over the tortilla chips and garnish with the chopped cilantro.