ARI LEVAUX for Lee Montana newspapers
I’m no hominy fan, but I would crawl over broken glass for a sip of posole. Both words refer to the exact same ingredient, and the difference between the two is like the difference between a violin and a violin. It all comes down to what you do with it. You can spill beer on a violin. And you can sip posole. But hominy must be chewed.
It all starts with corn that has been bathed in an alkaline liquid to remove the outer shell of each kernel. This ancient Aztec process, called nixtamalization, is the basis of Mexican cuisine and many other Latin American cuisines. Ground and nixtamalized corn flour is used to make tortillas, tamales, pupusas, arepas and many other corn-based delicacies.
Posole and hominy are served intact, making them a minority in the nixtamalized corn community. They are popular in some areas, but of incomparable magnitude with the impact, for example, of tortilla.
In strongholds of posole – also spelled pozole – like Mexico and the American Southwest, the word is spoken with respect. A sip of this broth brings comfort, warmth, hydration and a penetrating cheesy flavor.
Most recipes with “hominy” in the title will instruct the cook to throw out the water the nixtamalized corn is soaked in before use – in the case of canned hominy, the water is drained and discarded. Dried or canned, hominy is typically served as a whole grain, perhaps fried in a pan with butter, or mixed with other ingredients in a salad or side dish.