Hominy corn is dried corn that has been treated with an alkaline solution (such as lye) to remove the hull and germ. This ancient process, called nixtamalization, makes the corn easier to grind and use for cooking. It also gives the corn a delicious earthy flavor (what you taste in tamales and homemade tortillas) as well as making the corn more digestible and therefore more nutritious.
Dried hominy corn can be cooked whole, can be ground into cornmeal (hominy grits), or can be ground more coarsely into cracked hominy corn (maíz trillado). Cracked hominy corn is available in the U.S. in many grocery stores (Goya brand cracked hominy corn is available in both yellow and white varieties) but is easy to cook on the stovetop or—even easier—in the slow cooker. It's delicious as a breakfast porridge (with butter and syrup) or as a savory side dish (when cooked in broth). Or, the cooked corn can be ground in the food processor to make homemade masa, which can be used to prepare tamales, arepas, empanadas, and pupusas. Cooked corn will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave.
- 1 (16-ounce) package white or yellow dried hominy corn (maíz trillado)
- 5 to 6 cups water, or broth if making savory
- 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using broth)
- Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Stove Top Method
- Place corn in a large pot or bowl and cover with an inch of water. Soak overnight. (You can skip this step, but corn will take longer to cook).
- Drain corn and place it in a large stockpot. Add 5 cups of water and salt or just broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until corn is tender, about 1 hour, or longer if corn was not pre-soaked. Check corn often and add more liquid if needed.
Slow Cooker Method
- Place cracked corn in the slow cooker. Add 5 cups of water and salt or just broth. Cook on low setting for 4 to 5 hours until corn is tender.
- Once corn is cooked, stir in the butter, if using, and serve corn warm as a porridge with honey or maple syrup, or as a savory side dish (cooked with the broth) seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you are planning to use the corn to make masa for arepas or empanadas, remove the lid and let the corn cool in the pot, allowing some of the moisture to evaporate as it cools.