My wife Jan has her college friends staying over the weekend. Her friends come with a long list of food restrictions—no wheat, rye, barley, tomatoes, citrus, or lactose—so it is quite the challenge. Vegetarian beans and hominy struck me as one solution to meet their needs.
I learned this recipe from when Jan was visiting Hopi. Hopi beans and hominy presents its own challenges. Hopi food tends to be rather bland or requires herbs—nanakopsi, muhha, siswa, or muntochabvu—that are not generally available outside of Hopi. This dish was a good choice, because one of our guests does not handle spicy chilies well.
I did want to spice it up a bit more than the Hopi, so I added onions and garlic. Last time, I used the large Mexican white hominy (mote blanco). As I was checking my options, I found golden hominy (mote amarillo) and decided to go with that. My guest was able to tolerate mild chilies, so I used Anaheim, as a suitable choice.
Note: You may add meat to this dish, but it is really not necessary.
Karl’s Pinto Beans and Hominy
1 lb. pinto beans (Goya)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbs. corn oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 Anaheim chilies, seeded and cut into matchsticks
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (30 oz.) golden hominy
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
1. The night before making these beans sort and wash the dried beans.
Tip: If you wish to speed up making this dish you can start with a 29 oz. can of pinto beans.
2. Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with 8 cups of water.
3. Stir in one teaspoon of salt.
Tip: Many cooks heavily salt their water during the bean soak and then throw away the soaking liquid. In many cases this is not a problem. However, with pinto beans, much of the color gets leached out of the bean skins and is poured down the drain. This leaves you with a grey bean dish. I add just enough salt for the dish I am making and then use the soak water for cooking the beans.
Note: Besides seasoning the beans, the sodium salt in the soaking water replaces some of the calcium and magnesium in the bean skins. This exchange makes the skins more flexible and allows the skins to expand during cooking—as opposed to bursting open and releasing lots of bean starch into the stew.
4. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, over a medium heat.
Tip: For Southwestern dishes I usually use corn oil, but you are free to use your preferred oil.
Note: If you decided to add meat to this dish, this is a good time to brown and then remove it from the pot. Add it back to the beans later with the corn.
5. Sauté the onions until they are starting to pick up some color, 6-7 minutes.
6. Add the chilies and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, another 6-7 minutes.
7. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center.
8. After one minute, mix the garlic into the vegetables.
9. Pour the beans into a colander set over a large bowl to capture the soak liquid.
10. Add the beans to the pot.
11. Measure the soak liquid and add it to the pot.
Note: The beans will absorb a lot of the water during the soak. I had about four cups left of the eight I started with.
12. Add enough fluid to the pot to make 8 cups total.
Tip: I used water, but you may use beer or broth to make up the difference.
13. Bring the pot to a boil, cover and place the Dutch oven into the oven set to 350º F.
Tip: Many cooks would cook the beans on the stove top, I prefer using the oven method. The even all around heat gently cooks the beans without having to worry about them sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching. Also not having to bang the beans around while stirring them to prevent scorching allows more of the beans to stay intact as they cook.
14. Simmer the beans for one hour.
Tip: Scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching only if you are using the stove top. Otherwise, leave them alone.
15. Drain off the excess liquid from the cans of hominy.
Tip: DO NOT RINSE THE HOMINY!
Note: Hominy is packed in its own cooking liquid, which will still have some lye in it. In small quantities, it is not hazardous to your health, but too much can give your beans an “off” taste. As the can’s content settles the corn and released starch settles to the bottom of the can, leaving an inch of clear-ish liquid on top. pour off most of this fluid. The free starch will thicken your stew nicely, when you add the corn to the beans.
16. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and fold the hominy and black pepper gently into the beans.
Tip: Try not to mash the beans too much as you mix in the corn.
17. Return the pot to the oven and continue baking, until the beans have softened and the stew has thickened to your desired consistency, another 30 minutes to an hour.
Tip: I found my beans ready to eat after only half an hour of further cooking.
18. Serve warm directly from the Dutch oven.