Copper Canyon Revisited: The Tarahumara Table

Upgraded Posole with all the Fixins'

Upgraded Posole with all the Fixins’

Last year for Vegan Mofo I wrote about my south of the border heroes, the ultrarunners of the Sierra Madre, the Tarahumara, here, and here.

Anyone who has read Christopher McDougall’s entertaining book Born to Run knows what I mean. Here is an indigenous tribe, eating very plain starches, living a traditional lifestyle of hard work, that runs 100 mile races for fun.

Whenever I find myself falling for a Superfood Scam, I just remind myself of the traditional Tarahumara diet: 90% of calories from TWO foods: CORN and BEANS. Simple can be good.

But mainly I find myself coming back for the flavors of Mexico, and I had been dying to try a new variation of posole compared to last year. With cold weather finally hitting California, it was time. So welcome to a new, slightly different posole.

The original recipe, which I got from my sister, comes primarily from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva VeganHer recipe is meant to be quick and easy, and therefore uses canned beans, tomatoes, and hominy. I wanted a little more depth of flavor, so I upgraded the ingredients to slow cooked heirloom beans and posole, and fresh farmer’s market produce. It makes a big difference. I also wanted to try a couple of changes inspired by Daphne Miller’s Three Sisters Stew, which she developed after a research trip to Copper Canyon for her book The Jungle EffectMiller’s version is more traditional and not vegan. She includes bacon and lard, and chicken (or vegetable) stock to deepen the flavor. Romero’s brilliance is her use of beer for the cooking liquid. It makes for a very tasty stew. You don’t taste it in the final product, but it adds a lot of flavor. Obviously, for those straight edgers out there, your favorite broth or stock will work too. Miller also added a winter squash, delicata in this case, and for the beans, a broad type lima bean instead of the more common pinto. I just so happened to have a pound of heirloom lima type beans from Rancho Gordo that I slow cooked for the stew. They were fantastic! The delicata squash was a nice change from the summer squash I usually use. Despite slow cooking the beans and posole, active time is not that long. Once again, the slow cooker does the heavy lifting.

Slow Cooked Posole Corn (hominy)

Slow Cooked Posole Corn

Upgraded Vegan Posole Stew:

2-3 C cooked beans

2-3 C cooked posole

2-3 C chunked winter squash, such as delicata

3-4 C chopped fresh tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1-2 C chopped poblano (other peppers may be used)

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bottle Mexican beer

1 t chili powder

1/2 t cumin

1 t Mexican oregano

pinch of thyme

juice of one lime

salt and pepper

Optional Garnishes: sliced radishes, diced avocado, cilantro, shredded cabbage, pepitas, crushed tortilla chips, etc.


In a large pot, saute the onion, peppers and garlic until soft. Add spices and toast for a minute, then add tomatoes, posole, beans, squash, and beer. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until veggies are cooked. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice, turn off heat and allow to rest a few minutes while garnishes are prepared. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.

To serve, ladle into bowls and top with favorite garnishes. A fantastic accompaniment is a jicama salad, such as jicama with watermelon or orange.


Canned beans and hominy can be substituted. Canned tomatoes can be used instead of fresh. The choice of peppers is open as well. A mix of hot, sweet, or in between can be used. Use whatever you like or is available. Depending on what vegetables you use, you may need more cooking liquid, and the cooking time will vary. Amounts vary, it depends on how much stew you want. Just adjust the seasoning as needed.

And if you’ve made this far…

An awesome Vegan Mofo find!

Rachel over at has dedicated her Vegan Mofo to a project she calls OldNewWorld, meaning pre-Columbian cooking of the Americas. Brilliant! Amazing recipes from Mayan and Aztec sources along with some other smaller tribes and cultures. Well worth reading. And eating.

About vegpedlr

Plant powered off-road triathlete
This entry was posted in Beans, Main Dish, Starches, Stew and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Copper Canyon Revisited: The Tarahumara Table

  1. Ani says:

    Absolutely loved that book – put running in a whole new perspective for me!

  2. My heroes too, for sure. Love posole and Born to Run. Hoping your posts will continue to inspire as I very slowly get my mileage back up, as I come back from an injury, ugh!

    • vegpedlr says:

      Just eat lots of cactus! Just kidding. I don’t know if nopales has any special magic, but I will continue to incorporate into my diet, especially during a taco cleanse.

  3. HeidiW (bunsofaluminum) says:

    got it simmering right now. Big ole pot of it. It’ll be done by the time I go swimming, and I’ll have a bowl when I get home.

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