Living in the southwest, I have eaten my fill of hominy. I fell in love with the stuff thanks to a staple regional dish: posole.
Posole is a centuries-old Mexican stew and, as I have been told, the use of hominy was popularized by Native Americans in this region.
As with any dish, there is vast variation in how posole is served. But I am most familiar with it being served a particular way. In addition to the deep red stew (made with onion, garlic, Ancho and other peppers, oregano and more) and visible nuggets of hominy, the posole includes chicken or pork and is served with slices of lime and radishes and pieces of cilantro and avocado.
But my love for posole was ruined years ago. There was a period that I was so in love with the flavor that I ate posole every day for about one week. Since then, I don’t go near the stew and certainly never, ever any hominy.
So what to do with this challenge item? I did think about making a stew or soup. I also considered bread and muffins. Then it hit me – grits! Grits are derived from hominy! Perfect.
I grew up with grits. I love the way my mother makes them – not to runny, not ever dry and with a little bit of salt, pepper and cheese. I’ve always had savory grits, never sweet. And, for too-too long, I have wanted to make shrimp and grits.
I began with the onions, sautéing them toward caramelization. Before that point, I added chopped tomatoes, oregano and basil and about a cup or so of water. I let this simmer down until the water was nearly evaporated. Meanwhile, I had shelled the shrimp and sprinkled them with Old Bay seasoning.
I then added mushrooms and the shrimp to the tomato sauce. The water for the grits had already begun to boil, so I added it slowly to the pot and stirred and stirred and stirred. My mother had told me earlier in the day to be sure not to leave the stove; that grits are finicky, so you have to be very attentive to them.
Once the water was nearly evaporated, I added shredded sharp cheddar cheese, then poured the grits into a bowl, topping the grits off with the tomatoes and shrimp.
I don’t think I have ever made shrimp and grits in my life. But thank goodness for this week’s challenge item because, finally, I was receptive to trying something that, until this point, I have only mildly considered making.