What Exactly Is Hominy?

Hominy is corn, but not straight off the cob. Hominy is whole kernels of dried field corn (aka maize) that have been nixtamalized, a process that cooks have been doing since ancient times, starting with those living in what we now call Mesoamerica. The corn kernels are soaked in lye or lime solutions and then rinsed several times, which removes the hulls and turns the inner kernels tender and plump. This process improves the corn's nutritional content and also keeps the corn from sprouting during long storage, which was a big deal when cooks needed as many ways as possible to make the corn harvest last through the winter. Puffy, slightly chewy kernels of hominy have complex flavor and aroma, more like stone ground grits or freshly made tortillas than fresh corn.

Hominy
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Where To Get Hominy

Making hominy from scratch is a rather tedious multistep process, which is why most of us simply go to the grocery store and buy it. Ready-to-eat canned hominy includes a little liquid, like other canned vegetables. Dried hominy comes in bags like dried beans or whole grains, and needs to be soaked before it's used. Wet or dry, hominy makes a reliable pantry staple. The next time you think of grabbing a can of corn or a bag of black beans, try hominy instead.

white hominy grits
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Differences Between Hominy And Cornmeal

Most people think of hominy in its whole-kernel form, but it also comes ground. Hominy grits are coarsely ground hominy. Masa is finely ground hominy. Cornmeal from non-nixtamalized corn cannot be mixed with water to form dough, but cooks can use masa to make tortillas, arepas, tamales, and other dishes.

Cooking With Hominy

Canned hominy can be added right into recipes without further preparation. To cook with dried hominy, follow these steps:

  1. Pour dried hominy into a bowl, cover with 1 inch of water, and leave to soak for eight hours or overnight. (Note that 2 cups of dried hominy can make as much as 7 cups of cooked hominy).
  2. Drain water off of hominy and transfer hominy into a pot. Cover with 2 inches of water and salt generously. Bring to a hard boil for five minutes and then simmer until chewy and tender, about two hours.
  3. Drain hominy and add the appropriate amount to your recipe.

Seasoned whole hominy is an easy vegetable side dish. Most cooks, however, use hominy as an ingredient in other dishes, such as salsas, soups, and stews, especially posole, a beloved fragrant, flavorful stew that can upstage a pot of chili. Here are a few of our favorite hominy recipes.

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Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar
Southern Living

Recipe: Texas Caviar

Helen Corbitt, famed 1950s Neiman Marcus food director, first served what became known as Texas caviar as it spread to party tables across the South. A blend of black-eyed peas, white hominy, peppers, and tomatoes makes a delicious dip for tortilla chips. Green tomatoes and cilantro brighten the dish.

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Peanut-Pumpkin Stew With Hominy

Ashleigh Shanti's Peanut-Pumpkin Stew with Hominy
Peter Frank Edwards; Prop Styling: Kendra Surface; Food Styling: Anna Hampton

Recipe: Peanut-Pumpkin Stew with Hominy

This hearty fall stew recipe is from Ashleigh Shanti, the chef behind Benne on Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. Roasted pumpkin, peanuts, and hominy blend with spices for incredible flavor and texture. Or you can use butternut squash in this dish, too.

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Santa Fe Soup

taco soup
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Recipe: Santa Fe Soup

This simple soup is essentially a mouthwatering taco in a bowl, and it's so easy to make, too. Brown ground beef and toss in taco seasoning and cans of hominy, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Use corn bread or crunchy corn chips to soak up the delicious flavors.

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Slow-Cooker Green Chile Posole

Slow-Cooker Green Chile Posole
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Green Chile Posole

In this dish, the hominy is added after chicken thighs have been slow cooked to the point of falling apart. Then, stir in cheese and serve with whatever garnishes you fancy. We're partial to avocado, radishes, and slices of lime.

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