[Posted a day late. Sorry, folks!]
This is mostly an exegesis about the millet “hominy” experiment.
The making of millet “hominy” was interesting. I have lots of pictures. The preliminary result was VERY bland, but after some doctoring it became… freakishly creamed corn like and tasty.
The flavor profile is… different, but not jarringly different. The ingredients are odd, but they work together in a very good way. Or maybe it’s just keyed to my odd taste buds.
Unlike corn hominy you aren’t trying to remove the skin of the millet. The process is largely a means to change the texture of the millet to something a bit more edible. Sometimes just cooking in water can make it chewy or tough. This might have something to do with hard water, or it might have to do with over cooking. However, adding a base really did help the texture of the millet.
I cooked the hominy in baking soda water as promised. It puffed and broke open, yet stayed in distinct pieces. The skins just stayed… trying to peel them is like trying to peel those tiny champagne grapes– only the size of a pin head. The glass kind, not the metal stud variety, though the pearl sized kind are more than twice the size of a grain of millet. Here’s the texture you are looking for.
I’m not convinced that hard and fast rules about time are really a good idea… you want to look for the correct texture, and cook it at the right speed. I had it on 4 which is just below medium on my stove. I did my best to keep it simmering but not boiling too hard. It was foaming at first, but it slowly went away and the water turned milky. This is normal.
Despite the fact that baking soda is a bit less scary than using lye, I had some misgivings about the process at first. I mean, you are using the same amount of water (2:1) to material that you use for cooking millet rice style. And, for about the same amount of time.
So basically, I had one cup of millet, two cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. I mixed the water and the baking soda and set it on the stove, and stirred until mixed. It did not actually take that long. Then I added the millet and brought the temp up to a simmer and let it do that for about 30 minutes. Then I rinsed like a crazy person, using a fine sieve and two layers of cheese cloth. Believe me it makes things much easier.
You rinse, and rinse and rinse, and rinse some more. I used hot water, and even cooked it for a little bit in clear water. You keep rinsing until the water is merely somewhat translucent, rather than milky, and when you think that you are not washing off enough base to matter anymore, and are afraid you might have washed off the last of your flavor.
While the millet does remain in discrete pieces it has a wildly different texture than what you get from corn. Corn gets translucent and silky. Millet gets soft and fluffy.. but in a wet, fuzzy sort of way that makes you wonder if it is possible to wash off the base at all. It sounds horrible, but has a nice, soft yet structured texture that I liked to eat. It was actually an improvement on straight boiling in water. (hrm, maybe we have hard water.) I was concerned that the insane blandness would be a deal breaker, however.
Speaking of which, remind me to get some pH strips for my kitchen. (You only *think* I’m joking.) For you chemical pranksters out there, I like them better than red cabbage because they have a marginally better shelf-life. And I’m less likely to eat them by accident. 😉
Perhaps our millet are belong to base forever. The fact that it was so incredibly bland did make me wonder. I added a bit of salt (canning salt if you can believe it) and it had very little effect. I shrugged my shoulders, decanted it into tupper, and put it in the fridge to worry about later. I did other stuff for a while, while I got over my disappointment.
Then I decided that there was nothing on earth I wanted to eat in my home more than some kind of shepherd’s pie. So I decided I’d figure out what to do with the “hominy”. I contemplated briefly how creamed corn was originally made. So I took the millet “hominy” and put it in a 2 qt pot, I’d say I put in 3/4 of a cup of it. Then I covered it with almond milk by 1/4 of an inch, and let her cook on medium-low. That is, I tried to barely simmer it.
After 20-30 minutes, it was scalding, thicker, but not anything like what I wanted. It was also starting to break, so, in a panic, I added 3 tablespoons of GF millet flour. That is when the magic happened.
It thickened up pretty quickly and became silky smooth, and very rich looking. It tasted marginally more like millet, but it was still blaaaaand. So I added… about 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of Vietnamese fish sauce, 3 *drops* of white truffle oil, 1.5 teaspoons of hot sauce, a generous dash of onion powder, 1/2 cup (maybe more) of Daiya cheddar flavored shreds, and… a tablespoon of lime juice, and I let her simmer, not boil.
It stayed stable, didn’t fuss, and suddenly tasted wonderful, kind of like cheezy grits, but with the texture of creamed corn. Oh, and I set it sit on the stove on low for a while to let the cheese incorporate. It took a while, but it eventually did. After all, I was browning the lamb all this time, and cooking the sweet potatoes. It probably sat on the stove for another 20 minutes. Indeed, it worked out to have been exactly the same amount of time as making the lamb portion of the pie.
Happy St. Joseph’s day. Wear a black shirt for the old guy.