Chile Humitas are a corn tamale that is served all over the country with pebre sauce. I had the privilege of making these the old fashioned way with a molino. It is very labor intensive to make mainly in the prep of removing and cleaning the husks and then cutting the kernels off the cob and putting them through the molino which is basically a grinder to get the perfect consistency. The recipe presented here uses a food processor or blender as opposed to a molino the result will be nearly as good and well worth the work, they are yummy!
One of the things I love most about Latin food and this Chile Humitas recipe is no exception, is that it takes a village. Seriously this is a time consuming recipe and if you were to make it from scratch using a old fashioned molino, the whole family will get involved. Someone will husk the corn, someone else will clean and stack the husks, someone else will remove the kernels, another will run the corn through the molino and lastly the head cook will make the mixture to wrap up in the husks.
I find that during these labor intensive recipes that it is a wonderful time to catch up with friends and family. Once the meal is done, it is a true celebration. These little Chile humitas is more than just just a type of tamale, it is a culture in a delicious package. I hope you make Chile humitas with family and friends.
Did you know that it is proper etiquette to show up about 20 minutes late when you are invited to a party or meal in Chile. If you would like to learn more about this awesome South American country plus get additional recipes be sure to check out “Our Journey to Chile“.
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Humitas (Corn Tamales)
- 12 ears corn
- 2 tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil
- 1 whole onion diced
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika or merquén Chilean smoked chili pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons cornmeal
- 3 leaves sweet basil
- Make a circular cut around the base of each ear of corn, about one inch from the bottom. Remove the leaves and divide into pairs. If you're working with dry tamale leaves, soak them in hot water.
- Cut the kernels from each ear, separating them from the cob. Then process the kernels in a blender or food processor; the result should be a rough paste, not too smooth with some texture. Set aside.
- Heat the shortening or vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the diced onion and paprika (or merquén.) Sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the corn to the pot and cook for five minutes.
- Add the cornmeal and basil and cook for a final 10 minutes. The mixture should thicken and you should be able see the bottom of the pot when stirring.
- To assemble the humitas, place one corn leaf over the other, overlapping by around one inch. Place 3/4 to 1 cup of the cooked corn mixture in the center of the leaves. To close the humita, fold the sides of the leaves first, from the left and the right. Afterward, fold the top and bottom sides down to form a rectangular package. Secure the leaves with (cotton) kitchen string around the center. The finished package should resemble a bow-tie, or humita.
- Fill a large pot with water and add a little salt. Bring the water to a boil and place the humitas inside. Cook for 20 minutes and then drain. Let the humitas cool for five minutes before serving.
- Serve with Pebre Sauce