The nights are getting colder. Your body, sensing the darkness ahead, craves warmth, reassurance, fat. It’s finally pozole season.
But for Javier Garcia it’s never not pozole season. He grew up in Guadalajara, eating bowls of the thick, sticky, hominy, and pork stewy-soup (stoup?) for every event, birthday, and celebration. His mom’s pozole ruined him for any pozole ever since. “I was very spoiled,” he says.
Garcia is one half of the pozole pop-up Limón y Sal, which arose last January when he and his spouse, Galit pastry chef Mary Eder-McClure, hit upon a Jalisco-style pozole delivery service as a way to make ends meet. The previous spring when the pandemic struck, Garcia got laid off from his server job at Topolobampo (where the couple met five years earlier). Though money was extremely tight, they still tried to support farmer friends who’d been knocked down by COVID as well. They’d been buying their weekly meat from Trent Sparrow of Catalpa Grove Farm in downstate Dwight, who raises goats, lamb, and Berkshire hogs. One day the farmer came by with a delivery and threw in a pig’s head for free.
“Honestly I was like ew, gross,” wrote Eder-McClure in an Instagram post. “But then I called Javi and asked if he wanted it and of course he said yes. In fact he said ‘Yeah!!! We can make a really good pozole!’”
It’s those collagen-rich, fatty piggy parts like heads and feet that lend a proper pozole its lip-smacking, full-bodied richness, and Sparrow kept supplying the couple with free hog heads to support their increasingly popular menu drops. Apart from the classic red bowls of guajillo- and pasilla-bricked broth, they branched out to pozole verde de pollo, and even a vegan version with mushrooms and chayote, each kit delivered with the texturally essential garnishes: diced onion, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, lime, crunchy tostadas.
When restaurants came back online and headcheese, pâtés, and other charcuterie started making their way back onto dine-in menus, Limón y Sal started building their pork stock with pig feet instead. They clean then cook those trotters down overnight with onions, garlic, cilantro, bay leaves, and black pepper, then strain the stock and build the soup with chunks of pork shoulder and hominy.
“The flavor from Trent’s pork is on another level,” says Eder-McClure. “It’s really nicely marbled. Our pozole is a little bit different from traditional: We make the whole stock separately and then cook the meat in the stock so it’s extra porky.”
Over the summer, Limón y Sal became one of the most prolific and popular chef pop-ups in town, making guest appearances all over the city, and gradually expanding their offerings; ceviche, tortas ahogadas, elote ice cream sundaes, sopes de barbacoa. “It’s always centered around the flavor of Jalisco and Javi’s food memories,” says Eder-McClure. “We might use watermelon radish, which is not traditional, but adds a little flair. We use a lot of produce from the Midwest.”
Incredibly, though the couple maintained a regular pozole delivery schedule, they’ve never before served it to-order at any live pop-up. That all changes this Monday, October 25, when they usher in pozole season at Monday Night Foodball. Yes, it’s week nine of the Reader’s chef pop-up series at the Kedzie Inn, 4100 N. Kedzie (see the updated schedule below).
Garcia and Eder-McClure are offering their signature pozole rojo de puerco, in addition to a full Jaliciense menu, including the gorgeous chicharrón preparado pictured above; a shrimp aguachile verde “cooked” on the spot in a tangy lime and tomatillo broth; chicken tinga-stuffed pickled jalapeños with black bean salsa, and a burnt milk custard known as jericalla. “It’s kind of like flan, but burned on top like a Portuguese egg tart,” says Eder-McClure. “It’s sold all over the street in Guadalajara, but it’s not very common here.”
Garcia and Eder-McClure are in negotiations to open a permanent spot in a food hall to be named later, so it won’t be long before you can order pozole and other delights such as these whenever you need to. But this Monday will be your first chance. Preorders go live at 8 PM on Wednesday, October 20, or bide your time, walk in, and order a refreshing cantarito from Jon Pokorny at the bar while you wait for that warm, nourishing bowl of porky love. See you at 5 PM.
Monday Night Foodball abides:
11/1: Bites from the Big Easy with Chris Reed of Bumbu Roux
11/8: Mike “Ramen Lord” Satinover, with sweets by Jaye Fong of Maa Maa Dei
11/15: Thai food from Palita Sriratana of Pink Salt
11/22: Barbecue Life Coach Gary Wiviott
11/29: Thanksgiving/Hannukah break
12/13 12/13: Jennifer Kim (Alteconomy) and Nariba Shepherd (Trini Zaddy)
4100 N. Kedzie