Hominy is a key ingredient in many Mexican dishes, but what exactly is it? Why does it look like corn, but have a unique taste and texture? We’re going to give you the facts and show you how to prepare this delicious corn-based food!
What is Hominy?
This unique and delicious food looks like corn, but if you cook with it, you know the taste and texture are unique.
The process of making hominy begins with dried corn. Specifically, field corn, not the sweet corn we usually buy for summer dinners.
- The corn is re-hydrated in a food-grade calcium hydroxide solution. This can be lime (the mineral, not the fruit!) or lye, both of which can be found in most grocery stores. While the use of chemicals may sound intimidating, the solution will soften the corn, loosen the outer shells and keep it from sprouting while in storage.
- The preparation for it is almost the same as for dried beans. The dried corn needs to soak overnight in the solution.
- After soaking, rinse the corn kernels to remove any residual lye and to separate the shell.
This process, called nixtamalization, was first used in Central America more than 3,000 years ago. Many North America and West Indies indigenous people had similar methods of preparing corn.
Before eating it, heat it until it’s cooked and thoroughly warm.
If you don’t have the time to make it (and let’s be honest, most of us don’t, myself included), cans of prepared hominy are available in the most grocery stores located near the other canned vegetables. I used canned hominy nearly 100 percent of the time and the flavor is great!
If you can’t find any local to you, here are a few options to purchase it online:
What is the difference between corn and hominy?
The soaking process is what makes the difference. Hominy is puffed up to three times its original size. It imparts a bit of its nutty flavor to dishes but blends well with almost anything it’s cooked with.
What is hominy corn used for?
Once prepared, hominy corn is a versatile pantry staple.
In many Mexican dishes, it’s ground into a fine powder which is then used to make the traditional masa harina, or corn dough. Because of the soaking process, this form of cornmeal can create a dough that untreated cornmeal can not. This is because hominy has the unique ability to bond when wet.
As a result, it’s often used as a flour to thicken soups and stews or to make tamales. Most commonly, the masa harina made from hominy is used to make authentic Mexican corn tortillas.
Posole is another popular dish for hominy. It’s a combination of meat and hominy in a rich and flavorful broth. Popular posole favorites include Chicken Pozole Verde and Red Posole. Both of these Mexican stews put hominy front and center and highlight its chewy texture.
In Mexico, ground hominy is also commonly mixed with water and milk to make atole, a popular drink during the cold winter months and the holidays. It can be flavored in different ways, such as with chocolate, nuts fruits.
Is hominy good or bad for you?
Unlike traditional corn that can make its way intact through your digestive tract, hominy’s vitamins are readily available for use by your body. Hominy is full of B vitamins and by soaking it, there is added calcium.
While the bad reputation of processed foods may stand in the way of some people enjoying it, in truth, it’s high in fiber and low in calories. Also, it has almost no sugar or fat, and is a surprisingly filling food.
Despite some of the grain being lost in the process, it is still considered a whole grain food. Nutritionally, it is similar to corn.
It is often used by those on low-fat diet as well as those trying to lose weight. Better yet, it also happens to be gluten free. Therefore, it’s a grain that can easily be enjoyed by anyone!
Try this easy to make grain in place of beans or corn. Or try one of the recipes here, sure to make you fall in love with this ancient Mexican food.