Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday: Kabocha-hominy stew

Chillied kabocha-hominy stew (flavored with sweet peppers, toasted cumin and cilantro).

This might be one of our all-time favorite recipes; we always make it around this time of year. Kabocha is a small, dark green Japanese winter squash varietal. It's actually pretty common - you might find it halved for sale in a supermarket. It's good for stew, since its cubes soften nicely but retain their shape instead of becoming mush.

Hominy, for those who aren't familiar, is corn kernels treated with lye. When mashed, corn treated this way becomes "masa harina," the flour that tortillas are made of. Whole canned hominy, for that reason, sort of has that "tortilla" taste. Both white and yellow hominy is available in many supermarkets. We used both in this recipe, but we generally prefer the flavor of the yellow kind.

After red onion is sauteed with a little oil, the cubes of squash are thrown in and sauteed until they begin to soften. Flour, cayenne and cumin seeds are then added and stirred to coat the squash. Finally, hominy and broth are added, and the stew simmers for a while - the flour thickens it so that the minced pepper added at the end is suspended throughout. The final step is a cilantro garnish. It's pretty foolproof, but comes out looking (and tasting!) like restaurant food.

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