Homily for Hominy

In food on 10/29/2009 at 9:21 am

Of all the places he thinks is ‘bizarre’, Andrew Zimmern decides to go to Wisconsin for his latest episode of Bizarre World. I don’t think the other half blinked once while we were watching it last night. The reigning world champion in log-running and rolling was Andrew’s guide at the Lumberjack World Championships. She went to high school with the other half.

I was busy wondering why I’d never seen any of the places featured in the show. Zimmern makes Wisconsin sound interesting! The other half suggested an intrastate road trip next summer.

There was a grocery store in Milwaukee that caught my eye: Mercado El Rey. We had found a great taco place in the Mexican area of town when the other half had an internship in town several summers ago. Remember the heavy metal/Goth Mexican taco truck? But we hadn’t known about this grocery store. If only. In the back they serve all sorts of cooked delights, one of which is pozole, a hearty soup featured on the show.

When I took a bus trip down to Mexico City from San Antonio almost a decade ago, I tasted pozole for the first time. We were starved from puttering around the city, which is about 10X bigger than NYC, with a subway system to match, and wandered into this white-tiled soup station. It was so satisfying and rich but light, and this was a time when I didn’t really drink soup!

The main flavor components of pozole are tripe, hominy, roasted pepper and oregano. I remember I was in shock of some other culture besides Asians using tripe, and in such a different fashion. It was earthy, like rolling around in mud.

Fall and winter are all about soups now. Here in Jersey, we have to pay for our own heat (another reason not to move here!), so drinking soups are a way to save on the electric bill, but soups are also great one-pot cooking: just add pasta, noodle or rice and you’re set.

In the freezer we had the leftover packs of innards from my dinuguan-making adventure. I like pozole with offal-funk, but if you are shy, you could use any ‘safe’ part of the pig. I had a big chunk of snout in this pack. I think it could be a better option than tripe, because it retains some QQ after long soaks.

As for pepper, it’s best if you had some sofrito stocked up in the fridge, or you could use chopped dried smoked chiles. I had some roasted red pepper in a jar so I used that. I have a mother stock (basically the dregs of the soup from last night, strained) that I transfer to the new soup. But if you don’t, Better than Bouillion is good, and doesn’t take up too much space. As long as the main flavor profile is intact, it’ll taste like the real thing.

By the way, if you want to make menudo, just subtract the hominy and amp up the spice factor.

chopped tripe, but any offal will do
hominy (frozen is better than canned)
roasted chili pepper (pick your fav)
dried oregano
sofrito (or separately, minced garlic, onion, cilantro, bell pepper)
salt & pepper

Boil tripe or innards until easy to chop up ~1 hr.

Add all ingredients in pot with water (stock if you have it handy, if not, just make sure you add more of the flavorings). Simmer on low at least 15 min. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with pico de gallo, sour cream, tortilla chips, chopped cilantro and/or slices of avocado.

hominy is good for the soul

  1. i loooove pozole but i’ve only made the bastardized americanized version (leftover thanksgiving turkey). hominy is awesome. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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