This is a recipe my husband and I devised. The idea was to construct a flavor profile that tasted like the South–not the deep-fried South we’re all familiar with, but the deep woods South. The ingredients are similar to those native to the area–bitter greens, onions and garlic (similar to wild garlic and ramps), mushrooms, and of course, hominy. The first pot we made of this stew was huge, and fed us for about a week!
A note on the flavor: the stew tastes primarily of hominy, of that nice woody taste from woodash lyed corn. Despite the golden rule of cooking (always add salt and pepper!), we added no salt to the dish while cooking so we could get a taste for a good hominy stew. That said, we both added salt after a few bites, and once we did that, the hominy flavor was gone. I’d recommend holding off on salt for the same reason.
Servings: A whole bunch! Maybe…10?
Total time: Prep. time, one day (if making your own hominy); Active, 4 hours
2 packages (16 ounces) whole baby bella or button mushrooms (or, if you have the means and the access, use chanterelles or morels or any other fungus found in the Southeast)
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 bunches of bitter greens (we used mustard, but kale, turnip, dandelion, etc. would work as well)
2 quarts of homemade hominy, or 2 cans of Juanita’s Mexican style hominy
*1 lb. of mild chicken sausage (for the meat eaters, like my husband)
If you are making your own homemade hominy, you need to begin the night before you plan to make your stew by soaking dried flint maize kernels in a relatively strong alkaline solution. (Around two cups of homemade lye mixed with water.) The solution needs to be strong enough to loosen the hulls of the kernels so much that once you’ve drained and rinsed the solution, you can easily rub the skins off. If your solution wasn’t strong enough, you can boil your hominy (in water and woodash lye) to remove the skins–MAKE SURE TO USE A NON-REACTIVE POT FOR THIS! (Like ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.)
Next, place your hominy in a large, clean stew pot, cover with plenty of water, and simmer for two to three hours. You want your hominy to be very soft, and for the germ (the little seed in the kernel) to cook all the way through. This will take a little while. In the meantime, stir your pot every once and a while, and keep an eye on the water–between the soaking the night before and the cooking, hominy soaks up an incredible amount of water.
I waited until the hominy was ready before I began cooking the other ingredients so I could add all the oil and fat from the process to the stew. Doing so definitely complemented the flavor, but you may not want to wait that long.
After your hominy is done, or after it has been cooking about an hour, sauté your diced onions over medium-low heat in a nutty oil, like olive oil, until they are almost translucent, then either set aside or add to the pot. Next, slice and cook your mushrooms. Depending on the kind you’re using, you may want to sauté them in butter and wine (chanterells), browning them then adding butter (morels), or simply sautéing them in olive oil or butter (bellas or buttons). Clean and chop your bitter greens–no need to cook them, though. They’ll cook in the stew. Finally, nicely brown your sausage, if you plan on using it.
Once your hominy is soft, add the above ingredients, as well as the minced or pressed (with a garlic press) garlic and some black pepper. Let this simmer for another hour so the flavors can come together. Add water as needed.
When it’s done, it should taste (and smell) like hominy. It’s a different taste than most people are familiar with, and one that salt tends to over power. I recommend trying it before salting it.