Corn is a staple food in various parts of the world, especially, the United States. An interesting fact about corn is that, it is a grain that can be consumed as a vegetable in its fresh form. Corn is available in different forms, like cornflakes, corn grits, corn pellets, popcorn, cornmeal, corn chips, and hominy.
What is Hominy Made of?
Corn grains are treated in different manners to produce a wide range of corn products, and hominy is one among them. In simple words, hominy can be defined as dried corn kernels from which the hull and the germ are removed. This is done through a process called nixtamalization, which refers to the procedure of treating corn kernels (can be used in certain other grains too) with an alkaline solution, so as to remove the hull and the germ. It is said that this process makes the resultant product more flavorful and nutritionally superior.
It is believed that, hominy has been used by the Native Americans for a very long time. In fact, the history of hominy has been traced back to 1500 to 1200 B.C. It is said that the process of nixtamalization originated during that period, in some parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Today, it is very popular throughout the United States, especially, the southern parts. This corn product is often associated with southern cooking, but is also popular in other regions. It is also an ingredient in some of the popular Mexican foods. In Spanish, hominy is called nixtamal. Some people refer to it as 'pozole', as it is used to prepare a soup named pozole.
How is It Made
In the United States, traditional nixtamalization denotes the process of soaking dried corn kernels in lye water (derived from wood ash). The Mexican method of nixtamalization involves cooking the corn kernels in lime water (calcium hydroxide). Both the methods result in removal of the hulls and killing of the seed germ. However, the products can be slightly different in taste, as the preparation procedure differs.
As compared to nixtamal, hominy is softer; and is available in whole or ground form. It is usually boiled till cooked. This cooked version can be used as a cereal, or can be used to prepare other recipes. While the coarse ground form is called 'samp', the finely ground version is called hominy grits. You may also go for dried or canned type. Hominy in a can is nothing other than commercially prepared hominy that has undergone the process of canning. Canned version has a stronger scent, but lacks the flavor of those prepared traditionally.
Hominy grits are widely used as a breakfast cereal, as an ingredient in baking or as a side dish. In Mexico, nixtamal is ground into a paste called 'masa', which is used for making corn tortilla. It is also the main ingredient in tamale filling. Another classic Mexican soup, called 'pozole' is a stew made with hominy, along with pork, chicken or other meat. There are many other hominy recipes, like patties, fried dishes, bread, hog n hominy, hominy chili, 'menudo' (a soup made of hominy and tripe), and casseroles.
In short, hominy can be used to prepare a whole lot of dishes. You may collect different hominy recipes, and try them at home to enjoy this delicious corn product.