Hominy is like corn's quirky little cousin -- you can tell they're related, but they're nothing alike. Dried hominy is basically naked kernels of corn, or corn kernels soaked in a weak lye solution to remove their hull, bran and germ. You have to soak dried hominy to reconstitute it, and it needs to be simmered before you can use it. Hominy has a substantial texture, so you can oven-roast it, which gives it a corn-nut-like crunch, or braise it, the method used to make the classic Latin-American dish posole.
Plump Up the Volume
Sift through the hominy kernels and pick out any field debris or stones. Place the hominy in a colander, rinse it with cold water and place it in a bowl or pot.
Cover the hominy with a few inches of cold water and let it soak for 12 hours. Check the water every couple of hours and change it out when you see it getting cloudy or notice impurities floating in it.
Discard any kernels that float on the surface of the water. Drain the hominy in the colander and rinse it with cold running water. Examine the kernels again for any foreign matter while you rinse, and discard any that didn't swell.
Peace, Love and Hominy: Hominy Three Ways
Simmer the hominy in stock or water with a cup or two of mirepoix, or two parts diced onions to one part each diced carrots and celery, and a bay leaf until tender and starting to burst, about one to two hours. Serve the hominy as-is, or rinse it with cold running water and let it drain for about 30 minutes if you want to roast it or use it in posole.
Pat the simmered hominy dry with paper towels after you drain it, and coat it liberally with olive oil if you want to roast it. Season the hominy to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until it turns golden brown and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Saute onions and garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven if you want to make posole with the simmered hominy. Add the simmered hominy after you saute the garlic and onions along with sliced chilies, a can or two of diced tomatoes, canned pinto beans and spices, such as cumin and oregano. Simmer the posole for about an hour, add cooked and shredded pork, and simmer for 30 minutes to marry the flavors. Finish the posole with fresh cilantro and serve with tortillas.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.