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.
Pulled chicken and hominy stew
1tablespoon olive oil
1large yellow onion, diced
4cloves garlic, minced
1teaspoon ground cumin
1teaspoon cayenne pepper
1teaspoon smoked paprika
1teaspoon mustard powder
1pound steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
1quart beef broth
2cups red wine
16-ounce can tomato paste
Juice of 2 limes, divided
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
2red bell peppers, cored and chopped
129-ounce can hominy, drained
1/4cup packed brown sugar
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4cup 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.
Makes 8 servings. Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 430 calories; 90 calories from fat (21 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 43 g protein; 5 g fiber; 1,270 mg sodium.