Humitas are similar to Mexican tamales, however these corn parcels are filled with a freshly ground corn mixture instead of dried ground corn. Common throughout South America, humitas vary from region to region and even house to house.
- 8 cobs sweet corn with husk on
- 40 g (1½ oz) butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) full-cream (whole) milk
- 150 g (5 oz) queso fresco cheese, coarsely grated (see Note)
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Peel back and remove the corn husks, taking care not to tear them as they will later be used to wrap the corn parcels. Remove and discard the silk. Coarsely grate the corn into a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the corn and its juice and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and the mixture begins to thicken. Pour in the milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the corn has softened and thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in half of the queso fresco and season with sea salt. Set aside.
Soak the corn husks in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, or until softened and pliable. Refresh under cold running water. Drain well.
To make the corn parcels, lay one large or two small corn husks (side by side) on a clean work surface. Lay another corn husk across the middle to make a cross. Place a large spoonful of the corn mixture into the centre. Sprinkle a little of the remaining queso fresco on the parcels and top with chilli flakes. Fold the sides of one of the husks over the filling and then fold the remaining husk over the top to make a square parcel. Tear a couple of corn husks into thin strips to use as ties and secure. Repeat with the remaining corn mixture and husks.
Place the humitas in a steamer and set over boiling water. Steam for 5–10 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot or at room temperature with grilled meat, chicken or fish.
• Queso fresco, or “fresh cheese”, is a firm white South American cheese made from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s and goat’s milk. Substitute goat’s cheese if unavailable.
Recipe and image from South American Grill, Rachael Lane (Hardie Grant, $34.95, hbk)