Here at Oola, our mission is to help our readers live life to their tastes. So when we become aware of a cool ingredient, we just can't wait to share it with you all. Enter our newest food crush, hominy. Now you may be asking, what is hominy? Fear not, for we've broken this down along with where it came from, how to cook it, and some helpful nutritional information. Plus, we'll detail several inventive recipes that use hominy. Read on for our full hominy guide to help expand your culinary knowledge and inspire some creativity in the kitchen.
First and foremost, let's figure out exactly what hominy is. It starts as white or golden corn kernels of maize (aka field corn) that are then soaked in a mineral lime solution. This process, known as nixtamalization, causes the kernels to inflate to nearly double or triple their starting size. Additionally, this treatment removes the hull and germ of the corn which is what allows it to swell.
When combined with water, the treated corn becomes masa which is the base of tamales, tortillas, and other popular Mexican staples. Hominy can be found in the dry good section of health food stores or canned with liquid in most grocery stores; the dried version can be ground into hominy grits as well. Hominy has a distinct nutty and sweet corn taste.
Native Americans in the pre-Columbian era began to cultivate maize around 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. It is unknown when they began to treat it until it became the hominy we know and use today. But, when European settlers arrived in the New World, hominy was shared with them and brought back to the continent. Nowadays, it is commonly used in Mexican cuisine (as previously mentioned), South American dishes, and it has since become a popular ingredient in Southern cooking in the United States.
Canned hominy can be used just like beans, in stews, chilis, and soups. It is a very convenient option and is more readily available than the dried variety. Depending on your recipe instructions, the canned product may need to be drained and/or rinsed, so be prepared for those possibilities when cooking.
Dried hominy is a more difficult ingredient and gets treated just like dried beans. So, it must be rinsed then soaked overnight to rehydrate. Since this requires more lead time and planning, we much prefer the canned option. Dried hominy is also harder to locate and is generally available at Whole Foods, Mexican supermercados, and other speciality stores. If dried hominy is ground into smaller pieces, it is able to be used for grits; this can be found at some speciality stores so simply follow package directions to prepare properly.
One of the coolest things about hominy is how nutritious it is. It's naturally gluten-free, contains almost no fat, and is a great source of fiber; dietary fiber is helpful for digestion, aids in weight management, contributes to lowered cholesterol, and can help to control blood sugar levels. Additionally, for those watching their caloric intake, a cup of hominy is about 120 calories compared to a cup of white rice which is over 200 calories. It's also still considered a whole grain even though it is a processed food product.
One more interesting note is that the nixtamalization method allows for the vitamin B3 (niacin) to be released and thus able to be digested by humans; niacin helps the body turn food into energy efficiently, keeps skin healthy, lowers cholesterol, and supports the proper function of the nervous system.
There are so many great uses for hominy, so we've rounded up some popular dishes using this stellar ingredient. From classic Mexican dishes, to Southern staples, to inventive new twists, hominy is sure to be a new star in your kitchen this year.
Pictured above, perhaps the most famous utilization of hominy is as a standout ingredient in posole; posole is a traditional Mexican pork soup. For a basic recipe of this dish, check out Food & Wine's Posole Rojo recipe. In an updated twist, this New York Times version uses dried hominy and chilies from the state of New Mexico in the U.S. For an easy crockpot concoction, consider Cooking Light's chicken crockpot take. Whichever way you choose, hominy truly shines in posole.
A fun and creamy side dish option, hominy and cheese is our next suggested use for this product. Sour cream, sharp Tillamook cheddar, and green chiles combine for greatness with our hominy hero in this celebrated recipe from All Recipes. Bacon and Velveeta make the Taste of Home casserole version extra decadent. Unfortunately, the addition of such rich ingredients makes hominy's celebrated health benefits less promising, but moderation is key so just don't make them regularly.
As previously mentioned, hominy is commonly used in Southern U.S. cuisine. So it's only natural that we'd be excited about a shrimp and hominy grits recipe from Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay; homemade garlic-herbed breadcrumbs make this a must-try option. For a pared-down breakfast of hominy grits, look no further than this All Recipes choice. It adds cheesy goodness to ground dried hominy for a winning combination.
Pudding may seem like an odd addition, but there's no reason hominy can't shine in the sweet dessert realm too. After all, rice pudding is a thing so let's give hominy the same treatment. This canjica recipe is a hominy pudding with Brazilian roots. Warm spices like cinnamon and clove make this seasonally appropriate, while condensed milk sweetens the dish. A simpler savory version featuring cream and salt and pepper can be found here and is a better option for a side dish.
For a Southwestern twist, try this version using golden canned hominy. Green pepper, butter, onion, paprika, and chili powder combine for a delicious hominy recipe. Whichever way you choose to use hominy, you're sure to enjoy the end result.
Overall, we hope you've enjoyed our deep dive into the incredible ingredient of hominy. We've covered what it is, its origin, how to cook three versions, and useful some nutrition information. Now that you feel better versed with this product, we hope you try some of the hominy heavy-hitter recipes we shared too. Hominy is destined to shake up your kitchen and inspire some culinary creativity.