10 July 2011

cooking lessons

So as my time here draws to a close, so does my exposure to the yummy (and yeah, sometimes not so yummy) foods my host mom makes. One of the things at the top of the List of Things Juli Misses About the US is cooking/ having choice in what I eat.. but there is something 'exciting' about coming to the lunch table and having no idea what food I might be served. From tripe (why yes, the very stomach lining same that was featured in a Chilean blog.!) to fried chicken - I've gotten to try it all here, for better or for worse.

Anyway, in light of this, I have been asking my host mom to teach me how to make some of my favorite dishes. First, she taught me the most typical Guatemalan food, Pepián, which took about 290982 hours to make. Then, she told me how to make beans (which we eat at least 2 meals a day every day, so it was important to learn her secrets). This past week, she taught me how to make one of my favorite things- Chuchitos, which are a lot like Mexican tamales (corn dough stuffed with tomato-based sauce and a chunk of meat, wrapped in corn husk or banana leaf). Yummy!!!
NOTE: By "taught," I mean that she rambled off very vague recipes and quantities, and then let me "help" cook them. :)

So faithful readers, I am going to impart this sacred chuchito knowledge on you.

First, cook tomato (2 lb of very red tomato), miltomate (10), and chile pepper (1 of your choice) in a pan. Let this mixture sit to cool and put it all in the blender. (No, we don't have a functioning fridge or a microwave, but of COURSE we have a blender! OOoh, Guatemala.) Blend it well, adding salt to taste- but don't let it get too watery. This is now called recado.

Now put the recado in a pan with about 2oz of lard (yeahhhhh this is when I got less excited about eating chuchitos all the time...), a pinch of sugar (this IS Guatemala, after all), a heaping tablespoon of consumé, and salt to taste. Stir this all together in the pan, and let it boil for about 30min.

To make the masa (dough), take 2lb of corn flour (or boiled, ground-up whole corn kernals if you have them sitting around) and add cold water until it becomes a doughy-paste, about 1/2lb of melted butter (or lard), and salt to taste. This is the masa.

Now the fun part; Assembling the chuchito. I have to admit- my chuchitos are never going to win any beauty awards, but they were yummy, and, well, let's be real- that's all that matters.

Now, take a golf-ball shaped ball of masa and mush it flat (or make a tortilla if you can), making a little bowl-home and scoop in the recado and a chunk of raw meat (chicken or pork or beef or whatever). Fold out a corn husk in front of you, and carefully put the masa bowl upside-down on the corn husk. Fold the sides of the husk in, the top toward the bottom, and tie a little corn-husk bow around the top to make it stay together. I wrote that all in 1 simple sentence, but believe me -- this is when the men are separated from the boys. Not easy, world.

Put all of your chuchitos (in our case, 78) into a huge pot, fill it until about 1in below the level of the chuchitos, and let it boil on your wood-fire stove with strong fire for about 1.5hr.

And there you have it, about 4 hours later-- you have a hot delicious treat!

Buen provecho, world!
bendiciones, juli


  1. O no - what happened to the fridge!?

  2. Delicious! What is "a heaping table of consume?"