Humitas Chilenas

This chile pepper gets its name from its origin. In Spanish, serrano is an adjective meaning “from the mountains” which is where it originated-in the mountains of Hildalgo, Mexico. The serrano is normally about twice as hot as Jalapeno (about 10,000 to 15,000 Scoville units). It is the second most popular chile pepper in Mexico. This chile is used mostly for salsas but can also be used in soups, sauces, chili or stews. Try these as a hotter substitute for Jalapeno.

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8 medium ears fresh corn in husks
2 Tbsp. lard
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced
2 long, green chiles, such as New Mexican, seeded and diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese


To prepare the husks and filling:

Begin by gently husking the ears of corn. Reserve the larger, outer leaves for wrapping the humitas. Slice the corn from the cobs with a sharp knife and reserve the cobs. Grind the corn kernels in a food processor (or chop by hand) into pieces the size of a grain of rice and put them into a large mixing bowl. Set the corn aside.

Melt the lard in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion has softened and turned clear. Stir in serrano peppers, green chiles and red pepper and cook until softened. Stir the peppers into the corn and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the milk and fold in the basil, tomatoes and Manchego cheese.

Bring a few inches of the water to a boil in a large pot. Fill a separate container with cold water and dunk the corn husks into the boiling water for about 10 seconds to soften. Once soft and pliable, immediately dunk the husks into the cold water. Drain them carefully and set aside. Discard the boiling water.

Form the humitas by placing a few tablespoons of the mixture onto the bottom of a large husk (or two smaller husks overlapped). Form a packet by folding the bottom over once, then fold in the sides and continue rolling into a packet. Tie with some of the smaller strips of corn husk or kitchen twine. Repeat until all of the filling is used.

To cook humitas:

Place four corn cobs pointing from top to bottom, into the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Arrange the remaining four cobs pointing from left to right. This will form a platform for steaming the humitas. Pour about 2″ of water into the pan and arrange the humita packets on top of the corn cobs. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and steam the packets for 1 hour.

Recipe from Damasio.