Hominy: What it is and how to cook with it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hominy is one of those foods you might think you’ve never tried, yet almost certainly have. Or at least a close relative of it.
That’s because the ingredient that starts as hominy can end as many different dishes across many cultures, from Mexican pozole to Southern grits to the corn nuts down at your neighborhood bar.
But first, the basics.
Hominy is the name given to whole corn kernels, usually white, that have been cooked in a lye or lime solution to remove their thick hulls. The result is a tender, somewhat bulbous kernel with a chewy texture and a clean, corn flavor.
In Latin America, these kernels are used most often in soups and stews, such as pozole, a highly seasoned stew of hominy, pork and chili peppers.
The Southern staple known as grits follows a similar path. In this case, the hominy is dried after processing, then coarsely ground. The resulting meal then is cooked with water or milk to a porridge-like consistency similar to polenta.
Finally, there is the snack food — corn nuts. These are produced much like hominy, except the kernels are soaked in water after the hulls are removed. They then are dried and fried until crunchy, then seasoned and consumed alongside intoxicating beverages.
Cans of basic hominy are widely available at most grocers, either among the canned vegetables or in the Hispanic foods aisle.

Pulled Chicken and Hominy Stew
8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 pound steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 quart beef broth
2 C. red wine
6-ounce can tomato paste
Juice of 2 limes, divided
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
2 red bell peppers, cored and chopped
29-ounce can hominy, drained
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro
In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika and mustard powder. Saute until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the steak tips and sear, turning to brown, about 3 minutes.
Add the broth, wine, tomato paste, juice of 1 lime, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, then cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Use 2 forks to shred the chicken, then return it to the pot.
Add the bell peppers, hominy and brown sugar. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the juice of the remaining lime and the cilantro.