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Steamed corn husks filled with ground corn are a traditional food, eaten by the native inhabitants of South America before the arrival of the Europeans. But they have persisted in many forms throughout South America, as humitas (Andean region), tamales (central America and Mexico, pamonhas (Brazil), and hallacas (Venezuela) to name a few.
There are many variations of humitas - sweet ones with raisins (humitas dulces), and savory ones with onions and cheese (humitas saladas). This recipe is for simple humitas, made with just four ingredients: corn, milk, salt, and lard. Simple and delicious, they are fun to make. They look like little presents and make the perfect portable lunch.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Start With Fresh Corn on the Cob
For this recipe you will need:
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- 8 ears of corn
- 1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon milk
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Remove the Corn Kernels
Carefully remove the husks from the corn, trying to keep them as intact as possible. You will use these husks later to wrap up the filling.
Strip the kernels from the corn. This recipe is a great way to use up older corn that has started to dry out - you can sometimes remove the dry kernels by hand. If you are using very fresh corn, you will need to cut them off with a knife or use a corn stripper. Save the corn cobs for the next step...Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Prepare the Steaming Pot
Place the corn cobs in a large pot, so that they cover the bottom. They will serve as a shelf or rack for steaming the humitas. Add about an inch of water to the pot, making sure that the water does not cover the cobs. The humitas will rest on top of the cobs so that they can be steamed without touching the water. Bring the water to a boil.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Blend/Process the Corn
Place the corn in a blender or food processor with the salt, and process until smooth. If the corn is too dry and won't blend well, you can add a little bit of milk (1 to 2 tablespoons). The corn mixture should thick -- you should be able to form a mound that will keep its shape. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Cook the Corn Mixture
Melt the lard (or vegetable shortening) in a skillet until hot. Add the hot lard to the corn mixture slowly, stirring at the same time. Add the corn mixture back to the skillet and cook over medium heat for five minutes.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Wrap the Humitas
Place the corn husks that you will use to wrap the humitas in the pot with the corn cobs and boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften them. Take one husk, or two small husks overlapped, and lay them flat, with the wider cut edges lined up together.
Spoon about 4 tablespoons of the corn mixture onto the wide end of the husk. Fold one side of the husk over the corn mixture. Fold the pointy end of the husks down and tuck in while you fold the other side over. The wide end can stay open, or you can fold it down to completely wrap the filling. Some people like to tie the open end of the humita closed with a strip of corn husk.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Shape the Humitas, Example 2
Another way to shape humitas is to use 2 corn husks. Place the filling in the middle of the first one, then lay the second one crosswise on top. Fold the flaps under and over to make a square package, with the filling in the middle. Tie up the corn husk package with string, or with a thin strip of corn husk.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Steam the Humitas
Place the humitas, seam side down, on top of the corn cobs in the pot. Cover them with any extra corn husks and the lid of the pot, and steam for about 30 minutes. Keep the water at a low boil. You may need to add more water from time to time, but the water should not touch the humitas.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Ready to Eat!
Remove from heat. Let cool and serve.
Makes 10 - 12 humitas.
Tip: You can make humitas any size that you like, as long as you can wrap the corn husks securely around them. Larger ones may need a longer steaming time.