Hominy Harmony

Posole, the savory and hearty, rather soupy stew made from dried large white corn kernels simmered for hours, is traditional and easy to prepare. But here’s a speedy version of the classic Mexican chicken and hominy stew that hits all the right notes. Posole can be prepared in many ways. All variations include a base of cooked hominy in broth.

Hominy is made from whole corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkaline solution to soften the tough outer hulls. The kernels are then washed to remove the excess solution, the hull, and often the germ. Once you’ve had hominy, you’re not likely to forget it! These big kernels of corn are puffy and chewy with a very unique flavor owing to a special processing technique.

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Along with extra chopped cilantro, we garnished our bowls of posole with julienned radishes and cubed avocado.

Cooked hominy is about triple the size of a raw sweet-corn kernel, but has an unmistakably nutty-sweet “corn” flavor. Canned hominy is widely available, both at Mexican markets and many national supermarket chains. Look for it in the canned bean aisle, where it will be labeled “white hominy” or “mote blanco.” Use canned hominy like you would use beans in a stew. Unlike beans, which mainly absorb the flavor of whatever liquid they’re cooked in or added to, hominy retains its distinct corn flavor even in the meatiest, chile-rich posoles.

As with other corn products, hominy is rich in carbohydrates and low in fat, so it can be a healthy addition to your diet. One cup of hominy contains just 119 calories. Another benefit of hominy is that it is high in fiber with each cup of hominy providing 4 grams, a nutrient that can help you lose weight because it stimulates satiety. Plus it’s low in sugar.

Neither of us ever remember eating or cooking with hominy before so we were intrigued by this quick weeknight version of the Mexican classic found in the Fine Cooking “Make It Tonight” series. When I first opened the can of hominy I expected to find lose kernels in a liquid, but the contents were one solid mass that needed to be rinsed and separated, a simple task.

We did not have ancho chile powder in stock, so a quick substitute is chile powder with a pinch of red pepper flakes (and you just know I added one heck of a healthy pinch!) And, unusual for us, we had no fresh limes on hand, so we added a squirt of key lime juice with the other garnishes. In the end, we were amazed at how much we really liked this dish—and will definitely be making it again… glad to have met you Hominy!

Quick Mexican Posole

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs. ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 15-oz. cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro; more for serving
  • Your choice of the following garnishes: shredded green cabbage, thinly sliced or julienned radishes, diced avocado
  • 1 medium lime, cut into wedges

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Pat the chicken dry and season generously with the spice mixture of chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, and black pepper. 

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Over medium-high heat brown the chicken well on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side.

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Because I didn’t have any room in the bottom of the pot, I cooked the onion and garlic in a separate skillet for a few minutes.

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The cooked onions are thrown into the pot with the browned chicken breasts.

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Stir in the hominy and chicken broth and bring to a boil. 

Directions

  1. Mix the chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with the spice mixture.
  2. In a heavy-duty 5-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown well on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the hominy and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken and shred it or cut it into chunks. Return it to the pot, stir in the cilantro, and season to taste with salt.
  5. Divide the posole among bowls and top with the garnishes and additional cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges.

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Once the pot starts boiling, turn the heat down, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

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Remove the chicken and shred it or cut it into chunks. We used our shredding claws, but forks work just as well.

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Return the shredded chicken to the pot, stir in the cilantro, and season to taste with salt.

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You can let it sit for awhile over very low heat before you divide among bowls.

By Barb Freda from Fine Cooking

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