My grandma thinks I am incapable of making any recipe without chile peppers. And she finds this very amusing. Take our conversation about hominy casserole the other day. As she was telling me her recipe she paused and then said while laughing, “Say, I have an idea. Do you have any chile peppers? I bet that would make this recipe even better!”
Well, it’s no secret that I love chile peppers. So much that I’m pretty certain my grandma’s theory is true. But, hey, I’m a Texan, what can I say?
But back to this hominy casserole—when I was at my grandma’s house in July, she had provided me with a fat file of recipes she’s collected over the years. There were a bunch of gems and some strange ones as well. I will definitely be making her batch of apricot bread but Aunt Margaret’s meat concern casserole sort of gives me pause. No matter, I love recipes and made a ton of copies to bring back to New York. But I forgot to copy one I was very interested in cooking—grandma’s hominy casserole.
Hominy casserole, which at it’s most basic is simply a mixture of hominy with sour cream and cheddar cheese, is an old-fashioned Southern side dish you don’t see that often anymore. Grandma made hers often in the 50’s and 60’s as it was both hearty and a great portable dish to bring to potlucks. But when I asked her why she stopped making it she admitted that she’s not the biggest fan in the world of hominy.
Hominy, which is corn that’s been treated with the mineral lime, is the foundation for both grits and masa, making this grain both distinctly Southern and Southwestern. It has a chewy soft texture and a toasted nutty flavor, a combination that can be unusual but one I find strangely addictive.
Grandma’s hominy casserole is the classic rendition of the dish, though she also shared with me one that was a bit more gussied up with olives and pimentos. For my version of hominy casserole I decided to do a bit of a hybrid, adding roasted poblano chiles, jalapeños, cilantro and garlic to the standard sour cream and cheese base. I also threw in some chorizo, which elevates this casserole to a main dish if you like, though it can work quite well as a decadent side dish, too.
The best thing about this creamy casserole, however, is that it’s a snap to make and a one-skillet dish, which makes it perfect for a quick weeknight supper. Though I find it extravagant enough that you could also share it with company and I guarantee they wouldn’t complain.
2 poblano chiles
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeños, seeds and stems removed, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans hominy, drained
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chile steam for 20 minutes. Take the chile out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove stem and seeds and cut dice chiles.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
On medium-low heat, heat the vegetable oil and then cook the crumbled chorizo while occasionally stirring in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet until brown, about 8-10 minutes. With a slotted spatula, remove the chorizo and drain any excess grease from the skillet, leaving 1 teaspoon. Add to the skillet the diced onions and jalapeños while occasionally stirring, cook on medium-low heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the diced poblano chiles, chorizo, hominy, sour cream, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, lime juice and half of the cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined, taste and add salt and black pepper and adjust seasonings. Top with remaining the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.
4 to 6 sevings