February's Can't-Miss Dish

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it. 

On the plate: Pozole

Where to find it: Ramiro Gonzalez says that the best piece of advice he ever got was from his mother. “She said, ‘Don’t be afraid. There’s sun for everybody,’” recalls the chef-owner of Taqueria Jalisco in East Boston. Her reassurance—hay sol para todos—helped him launch the restaurant in a neighborhood full of competing eateries. Since establishing the taqueria in 2001, Gonzalez has relied on his mom for wise counsel as well as recipes, many of which she perfected while operating a lunch truck catering to orchard workers in northern California.

Notes on the nosh: Pozole—sometimes spelled posole, is a hearty broth featuring tender chunks of pork, chilies, and fluffy white corn kernels called hominy. Gonzalez explains that a key part of preparing this red version of the dish involves whizzing dried guajillo chilies with a little water in an industrial blender, then frying up the slurry to maximize flavors and aromas. “You can make a big pot and feed a lot of people,” muses the chef, waxing nostalgic about family gatherings. “We always had it when there was a party.”

Even if you’re a party of one, this substantial dish—available seven days a week—feels entirely festive. Shredded cabbage, sliced radish, minced onion, and wedges of lime are served alongside, as well as crackling-crisp tostadas, dried chilies, and Mexican oregano. Customize your bowl to your heart’s content.

Sip alongside: A juicy agua fresca hits the spot. Get the Jamaica (pronounced “ha-MY-kuh”) made from edible hibiscus flowers. The chef submerges the dried petals in water, brings the pot to a boil, then strains the solids before adding sugar. It tastes like cranberry juice tinged with mulling spices. Like the Pozole, the beverage sports an intriguing hue. “The strong color is almost like a red wine,” declares Gonzalez.

Pro Tip: This Pozole’s broth looks spicy, but it’s deeply flavorful rather than fiery. If you’re craving capsicum heat, ask for the homemade hot sauce kept in a squeeze bottle behind the counter.

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