Exploring Hominy: Origins, Recipes, and Tips

Updated on July 1, 2020
Carb Diva profile image

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Hominy is delicious and versatile!
Hominy is delicious and versatile! | Source

Sin maíz, no hay país.

(Without corn, there is no country.)

— Ancient Mexican saying

First, a Brief Science Lesson

Have you ever made corn tortillas? If you have a sack of masa flour in your pantry, homemade tortillas can be at your fingertips in almost no time at all. But, don’t reach for cornmeal. It makes greats bread and muffins, but will never come together in a cohesive dough. Corn flour doesn’t contain gluten (that’s the protein “glue” of wheat that helps us make a sticky dough, and puffy fluffy bread). Masa flour doesn't contain gluten either, but it comes from corn that is transformed by a process called nixtamalization.

That sounds amazingly complex, doesn’t it? Anything that comes with a name that long must be a new invention, right? If we're talking of geologic time, nixtamalization was invented just moments ago, but the process of soaking maize in lime water was actually invented by the Mayans in 1500 B.C.

Nixtamalization (noun): a process for the preparation of maize, or other grain, in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, washed, and then hulled. This process is known to remove up to 97–100% of aflatoxins from mycotoxin-contaminated corn.

Let’s see if I can put this in layman terms. The cell walls of maize kernels are composed of cellulose (plant fiber) and the interior contains pectin (that’s the jelling agent that makes cooked fruits turn into jam). Soaking the kernels in alkaline water breaks down or relaxes the walls, releasing the pectin and making it available to bond with water molecules. Mixed with water the pectin become gummy and (thus) sticks together.

And Then, a History Lesson

Christopher Columbus “discovered” maize in the New World and took it back to Europe with him. Unfortunately, he didn’t learn or understand the science of processing that grain. He had only half of the recipe. As a result, the people living in Europe who grew maize and depended on it for their nourishment developed a disease—peeling skin that blistered when exposed to sunlight (which, believe it or not, promulgated the theory of vampires—pitiful subjects averse to sunlight). It was called pellagra (the Italian word for “sour skin").

It wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists discovered the problem. Maize contains vitamin B3 (niacin), an essential part of our daily diet, but we can’t absorb that vital nutrient unless the maize that we eat has been nixtamalized.

Recipes

Freshly cooked (from dry) hominy
Freshly cooked (from dry) hominy | Source

How to Cook Dried Hominy (Basic Recipe)

There is no question that canned hominy is easy to prepare; just grab a can opener and your work is (almost) done. But for all its convenience, canned hominy simply does not compare to the texture and amazing corny flavor of dried hominy cooked on the stovetop.

Cooking dried hominy is very much like cooking dried beans; rinse and sort (looking for rocks or debris), soak overnight, and then simmer in a pot with a lid.

Chicken posole verde
Chicken posole verde | Source

Posole Verde With Chicken

Posole (pozole) is a rich Mexican soup, traditionally made with pork. This lightened version, posole verde with chicken is time-consuming but can be prepared in stages. Don't skimp on the roasting the hominy; it develops a toastiness that will give your posole another layer of flavor.

Some of you don't care for cilantro (and I totally understand), but if cilantro is something you like please make the cilantro purée. It will totally transform this posole and take it from great to outstanding!

Cajun hominy skillet
Cajun hominy skillet | Source

Cajun Hominy Skillet

The Southern Lady Cooks start this hominy skillet with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking—onions, bell pepper, and celery. This dish is hearty and filling. I like to have sliced cucumbers and tomatoes on the side or serve it for breakfast with a poached egg.

Hominy au gratin
Hominy au gratin | Source

Hominy Au Gratin

Here's another Southern classic, hominy au-gratin. Hominy and bacon are baked in a casserole dish with a creamy cheesy sauce, similar to macaroni and cheese. I'm not a huge fan of pimento (yes, I know it's a Southern thing and I'm a gal from the north), so I would substitute diced red bell pepper. I made a few other changes as well:

  • I used skim (non-fat) milk in place of full-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup of bacon bits were replaced with 2 strips of turkey bacon

It made a difference in the numbers. Here's a comparison:

 
Original Recipe
Carb Diva Revised Recipe
Calories
256.7
229
Total Fat
15.1 g
12.8 g
Cholesterol
43.7 mg
38.8 mg
Sodium
626.2 mg
431.8 mg
Vegan white chili
Vegan white chili | Source

Vegan White Chili

This vegan white chili will make so many people happy. It's dairy-free, gluten-free, meatless (of course), and packed with plant-based protein and nutrients. Jess uses poblano and jalapeño peppers. To control the heat use a little or use a lot—it's your choice. I love the extra punch of flavor that comes from hominy in this chili.

Mexican black bean and hominy salad
Mexican black bean and hominy salad | Source

Don't use this Weight Watchers Mexican black bean and hominy salad as just a salad. Let your imagination run wild. It's a great salsa. Use it to fill tacos. Stuff it in an enchilada. And if you want something more "filling" warm it and serve atop rice or use with cheese in an omelet.

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      But Flourish, now that you know about it, would you eat it? I hope I've convinced you to give it a try.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      I’ve never eaten hominy and I’ve sure never seen that $1000 word nixtamalized. Had to look that one up! I don’t think I’ve ever even seen hominy on a table or if I did I didn’t know it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Thanks for checking, Linda!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, the Publix grocery stores have Goya (dry, near the bread crumbs? according to their website) and Juanita (canned, in the international foods aisle).

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Linda, thanks for these recipes. I'll give a few of them a try. I didn't know that hominy comes in white and yellow kernels. I've only seen the white ones.

      I'll have to check my grocery store for dry hominy. I've never seen that either, but then again, I never looked!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you can find it in Canada. I would look in the section where they offer dried beans and rices. Thanks for your comment.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am not familiar with hominy so I am happy for the introduction. I will try this, especially mixing this in the salad.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, anything with cheese and bacon has to be a winner, right? I think the white chili looks pretty tasty too. Thanks always for stopping by.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, you're a hoot, but that's one of the qualities that makes you so darned lovable. Enjoy the cool weather today. It won't last forever. It's the last day of June so I have to work on the quarterlies. No garden for this gal today.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Ann, it's odd (I think) the food items that are so common in one place and nonexistent in others. For example, here in the U.S. we do not have golden syrup, Heinz beans, Coleman's mustard, or Marmite. I'm glad you enjoyed the topic.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      This was such an interesting article. I have had hominy quite a long time ago but I have never cooked with it. Those dishes look so tasty and I would like to try a couple of them Thanks for another educational article. Have a good week, Linda.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      If it takes that long to explain it, I don't want it in my body. lol I crack myself up sometimes with my timely humor. :)

      Cooler weather is to be adored, my friend. The garden is calling. Can you hear it?

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 weeks ago from SW England

      I had heard of hominy but had no idea what it was. No I do!

      I've never seen canned or dried hominy here though. I'll have a look now as often things are around that are easily missed if you're not aware. Delicious looking dishes.

      Thanks for the education, Linda!

      Ann

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