September 13, 2011
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Ever since I was a boy and my mother put it into her pea soup I have loved hominy. It has been a Mesoamerican staple for more than 3,000 years. Pozole, a stew built around hominy, is probably nearly as old. You can use canned hominy for this dish but I like the firmer texture that comes from cooking the dried product. The latter is also much less expensive. I use a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time for a couple hours to less than 30 minutes. And I do not bother soaking it. However, it you do not use a pressure cooker soak it overnight. I serve this as meal all by itself but you could ladle it over Mexican-style rice if you wished.
- 1 cup, about 6 ounces, dried hominy (or 2 14½-ounce cans)
- 6 cups water
- 1 bell pepper, halved and seeded
- 1 jalapeño chili, halved and seeded
- 1 pound tomatoes, halved lengthwise (or one 14-½ ounce can diced tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon lard or oil
- 2 ounces bacon, diced
- 8 ounces boneless chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
Rinse the hominy well and put it in the pressure cooker with the water and a bit of salt if you wish. Cook at high pressure (15 psi) for 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then release the pressure. Drain the hominy, reserving the cooking liquid.
Arrange the pepper, jalapeño, and tomatoes on a baking sheet and put under a preheated broiler. (Omit the tomatoes if using canned.) When their skins have charred, remove the tomatoes, peel, and coarsely chop them. When the peppers are charred wrap them in a kitchen towel for about 15 minutes then peel and dice them.
Melt the lard in a heavy Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Render the bacon until it turns crispy. Remove to a bowl leaving as much fat behind as possible. Brown the chicken pieces in the lard and bacon fat then remove to the bowl with the bacon.
Turn the heat under the pot down to medium and give it a couple minutes to cool a bit then sauté the onion, pepper, and jalapeño until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two then stir in the tomatoes, oregano, and cumin. Return the meats to the pot along with the hominy. Add enough of the hominy cooking liquid to just cover everything. Season to taste with salt, stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Check the seasoning once more before serving hot.