Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Huitlacoche... An Exercise in Trust

Ok, you have to trust me on this one. Like a full faith, 100%, would I lead you astray type of way. It's called Huitlacoche (kweet-lah-KOH-chay), but it's also known as the Mexican truffle, which sounds delicious, right? But another name for it is "corn smut" which sounds disgusting and reminds me of what someone would call a porno that was shot on a farm. And technically it is corn that has been infected, grown bulbous and black on the cob, and while in Mexico it is canned and sold as a delicacy, in the US when this happens it is more often than not destroyed. But ignore that, think truffle, think delicacy. Because regardless of what it is called it is earthy richness, a lovely sweetness and is just perfect in so many dishes.
Definitely much prettier than Huitlacoche... but don't let that deter you
I remembered it from growing up in South Texas, found in some Tex-Mex restaurants, but primarily available in the full fledged Mexican joints. I had actually seen it at my local deli in Brooklyn and it caught me by surprise, but then, in a night of ordering in weakness I also saw it on a local Mexican restaurants' menu and ordered. And was hooked. It should be located in the ethnic/Mexican section of any major grocery store and it comes in a can (so also non-perishable!) Throw it in a quesadilla or enchilada with some melty cheese and you will forget everything except how absolutely delicious it is. Let me warn you though, huitlacoche is not pretty in the least, looking kind of like smallish black mushrooms that are very moist and gooey. Gross sounding, I know, but this is a trust exercise here. So trust me, and try these!

What I did was make crepes... not even remotely south of the border I know, but it was a cleaning out the fridge/freezer kind of night. I was originally thinking enchiladas with verde sauce, but didn't have tortillas and the only cheese I had anyways was ricotta. Initially meant as a way to showcase the leftover squash blossoms, they took a back seat to the earthy huitlacoche so I'd leave them out next time. The result... an exceptional meal, which I love having accomplished when I'm not really trying too hard and just going with what I think will work. With crepes there's really no way to have this be vegan, but if you got a hold of some rice paper, you could mix the huitlacoche with some tofu and wrap it all up for a Mexi-Asian combo. It would also be great with some hominy and a verde sauce which would also be vegan. Just some thoughts.
The huitlacoche is the blackish stuff inside the taco. Yum
Huitlacoche Crepes
3-4 pre made crepes
1- 7 oz. can Huitlacoche
1/2 1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
3/4 c. ricotta, monterey jack, cheddar, Oaxaca
1 Tbl. finely chopped cilantro
Verde Sauce- if you have it around

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine the cheese, huitlacoche, garlic, onion and cilantro. Mix well.

2. Put a generous amount of stuffing on a pre-made crepe and roll up like an enchilada (or like a burrito if you're so inclined). Top with Verde sauce and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melty and tops are browned. Serve immediately.

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