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updated: 3/28/2014 6:14 AM

Hominy adds texture to Tex-Mex pork stew

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  • Putting all the ingredients for Hog 'N Hominy Salsa Verde Stew in the slow cooker and letting it simmer all day warms up a house on a cool spring day and is an easy way to make the dish.

      Putting all the ingredients for Hog 'N Hominy Salsa Verde Stew in the slow cooker and letting it simmer all day warms up a house on a cool spring day and is an easy way to make the dish.
    Associated Press

 
By Elizabeth Karmel, Associated Press

It all started at my friend Anthony's house not long ago during the beginning of the so-called polar vortex. He is a gifted home cook and a food television producer, so he knows his way around a pot. He also is from Texas, and we share a love of tequila, barbecue and anything Tex-Mex!

That icy night, Anthony made an amazing pork stew with loads of chilies, cilantro and garlic. The flavors and textures were at once warm, comforting, fresh and exciting. The minute I tasted his stew tucked into a warm flour tortilla, I couldn't wait to make it again and share it with friends and family.

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As a cook, we all take recipes and add our own twist, and I instinctively knew that hominy would add another layer to this already delicious stew.

I love hominy and it is a perfect pairing with pork. Hominy is hard white or yellow corn, specifically maize, which is the type of corn used in making corn meal and other grain products, as opposed to the softer sweet corn, which is the familiar vegetable we steam or grill and eat all summer long.

Kernels of this corn are soaked in a solution of either lime or lye. But don't let this scare you; lye is the same substance that crisps certain pickles, cures olives and gives pretzels a distinctive crust.

The strong solution makes the hull and germ of the corn come off, and the grain puffs up to about twice its normal size. Once soaked, hominy is mostly dried and ground to form hominy grits.

Processed hominy also can be cooked until soft, then used in stews and soups. Posole is a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy. Hominy is readily available dried or canned. Because the dried hominy has to be soaked overnight, much like dried beans, I used canned hominy for the ease of it, but the dried hominy works well if you plan in advance.

The poblanos and red peppers can be roasted on the grill or in the oven, but everything else can be thrown in the pot and left to cook for hours until the pork is so tender that it falls apart and the broth becomes rich.

I made this stew in a Dutch oven, but I imagine it also would be perfect in a slow cooker. Putting all the ingredients in the slow cooker and letting it simmer all day is a cozy way to warm up a house and an easy way to make this dish.

The key to this recipe is a fresh "salsa verde" purée of raw tomatillos, lime juice, garlic, cilantro and the roasted poblano peppers that you braise the pork in. The tart salsa verde balances the beer and the chicken stock to make this dish come alive.

Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."

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