Cranky made posole today from some leftover braised pork and a bunch of little ingredients that needed to be eaten up.
It was nothing fancy; the chicken broth was store-bought and the hominy was canned.
He got all the ingredients out, but he still wanted me to tell him how to proceed.
"Should I use half this chicken broth or the whole carton?" he asked.
The question stopped me. I finally said, "Wisdom, little shaolin scholar. The soup will know how much it needs."
OK, that's not really what I said. I said, "Just pour it in the pot until it's the right amount." I mean, isn't that obviously the answer?
Then he opened and rinsed the hominy and proceded to dump it into the broth.
"Patience, my valorous apprentice. Weren't you going to cook your onions and peppers in the broth first?" I asked. "That hominy is already cooked."
He couldn't wait to get the pork in there, either, but I held him off. Sometimes a pot of soup is not just a bubbling cauldron.
"Timing, Grasshopper. The pork has been cut into small pieces and will begin to fall apart."
Finally it all started to come together, and the beauty of waiting to add ingredients to the pot became perfectly clear.
When the vegetables were barely tender, he added the pork and some cubed, cooked winter squash to heat up. Then he added some chopped tomato just to warm through, not to cook.
He dished the soup and laid sliced avocados and torn cilantro over the top, and with a final, deft blow of his partly empty fist, showered it with a nice squirt of crouching lime.
This simple dish was magnificent, and so much of its success was from the timing of ingredients, the contrast in temperatures, and the layering of flavors.
(The hominy was none the worse for the extra simmering.)
Good work, Cranky.