Hominy, also known as nixtamal, is corn treated with lye. The corn is soaked in water with lye to remove the hard outer hulls. This process makes the corn more palatable, easier to digest, and easier to process. The process also converts some of the niacin in the maize into a form more absorbable by the body.
Some recipes using hominy include menudo, a tripe and hominy stew; pozole, a pork and hominy stew; hominy bread; hominy chili; casseroles and fried dishes. Hominy can be ground coarsely to make grits, or into a fine mash to make masa for tamales and tortillas.
For 3 quarts of hominy:
- Put the water into a large kettle or saucepan, and add the lye.
- Allow the water to come to the boiling point, and then add the corn. Let it boil until the skins will slip off the grains when they are pressed between the thumb and the finger.
- Remove from the stove, stir sufficiently to loosen the skins, and then remove them by washing the grains of corn in a coarse colander.
- Cover the grains with cold water and return to the fire. When the water boils, pour it off. Repeat this process at least three times, so as to make sure that there is no trace of the lye, and then allow the grains to cook in more water until they burst.
- Season them with the salt, and while still hot put it into a jar or a crock and cover it tight until it is to be used. The water in which the hominy is cooked should remain on it.
- A safer recipe, substitutes baking soda (1 tablespoon per quart of water in the first boil).
Lye is caustic and must be handled with care! Lye may cause serious burns. Before using lye, please read the article on Sodium Hydroxide. If you decide to use lye, add it gradually to the bulk of the water while stirring to dissipate the heat of solution. See also Hominy without Lye.