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Hallacas - Venezuelan Tamales

Hallacas - Venezuelan Tamales

A delicious traditional Venezuelan dish from Chef Alejandra Schrader.
Ingredients for Guiso - Stew for stuffing
  • 4 oz center cut bacon, chopped
  • 1.5 lb pork, diced to ½” cubes
  • 1.5 lb beef chuck, diced to ½” cubes
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large brown onions, chopped
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for Masa – Corn flour
  • 2⁄3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp annatto seeds
  • 2 cups corn “masa” flour (Use Harina Pan or Goya brand for arepas, do not use Maseca)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1⁄3 cups warm water + more for adjusting masa’s consistency
Assembly + Toppings
  • 10-inch squares of banana leafs*, cleaned, deveined,  and quickly immersed in boiling water *May need 2-3 squares per hallaca
  • Kitchen twine
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced at ¼”
  • 1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 large jar of red pepper-stuffed green olives (approx. 48)
  • 1 cup capers
  • 1 cup raisins


PREPARATION
Guiso
In a large pot or dutch oven, saute bacon until fat is rendered. Add pork and beef along with cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper then cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Add onions, tomatoes, garlic, leek, celery, and bell pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking until all meat is tender, about 1.5 hours.
Once meat is tender, add lemon juice and sugar. Stir and taste to adjust seasoning. Set aside until guiso has cooled down completely. This may be done ahead and refrigerated.

Masa
Over a low heat, cook oil with annatto seeds in small sauce pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Cool down to room temperature, strain and discard seeds.
In a large bowl (or food processor) mix in masa harina, salt, water, and annatto oil. Form dough into 24 balls.

TO ASSEMBLE
Lightly oil the center of a banana leaf square. Put a ball of masa in the center of each square and flatten dough out to 1/8” thickness. Top each masa-coated banana leaf with meat mixture and top/garnish with a strip of pepper, onion ring, a slice of hard boiled egg, a few raisins and capers, and two olives.
Fold leaf to completely encase the filling, making rectangular pockets. Hallacas can be roughly 6”x3”. Tie each hallaca with kitchen twine. Steam in large pot, covered, for 1 hour. Serve hot.
* Hallacas can be refrigerated (or frozen) and steamed to reheat before serving


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