Skip to main content

Kitchen Challenge Accepted: Honduran Nacatamales

When I saw that Love & Olive Oil was hosting a Tamales Kitchen Challenge this month, I was very excited. I needed an excuse to make nacatamales again. However, the instructions came with a caveat: "...but they do need to be traditionally wrapped in corn-husks…."

Hmmm...Honduran nacatamales are traditionally steamed in banana leaves instead of corn husks.

Not wanting to break the rules of the challenge, I sent Lindsay and Taylor a message. The answer: "They're wrapped and steamed in the same way right? If so, definitely ok!" Fantastic. Here we go.

So, while R went to his mandolin lesson, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I went to the Asian market for banana leaves and the Mexican market for Salvadorean cream (it's like a thin sour cream). Our nacatamales aren't completely traditional because I cook the meat before stuffing them and I also skipped the lard.

This recipe made approximately 24 nacatamales. When you're working with kitchen elves, things are not as precise as they could some were smaller and some were larger, but it was roughly 2 dozen when we were all finished.

For the masa
  • 6 C masa harina
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C vinegar
  • 4 C organic beef broth

For the filling
  • 1 lb 96/4 organic grass-fed ground beef
  • splash of olive oil
  • 4 banana peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 C fresh tomato sauce
  • 1 T ground paprika
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C chopped herbs (D gave me oregano, marjoram, parsley, chives, and mint from his garden)
  • 1 C shredded cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar)
You will also need 1 package of banana leaves, rinsed and dried.

For the masa: Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir till it comes together into a ball. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling: In a large flat-bottom pan, soften the garlic and banana peppers in a splash of olive oil. Add in the meat. And cook through. Pour in the tomato sauce. Season with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Fold the meat mixture into the masa - with the herbs and the cheese - to form the filling.

To assemble: Lay a banana leaf on a cutting board and spoon 1 C of the filling into the center.

Fold the edges of the banana leaf over the stuffing and roll the banana leaf to form a packet.

Place the nacatamales in a large pot, suspended over water. I don't have a steamer basket, so I use an upside-down bowl with a plate on top. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot tightly and steam for 60-70 minutes.

The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was so proud of his nacatamales. 

Each diner opens the banana leaf of his or her own nacatamal before eating. D used the Salvadorean cream and fresh salsa to make "art on a plate."

This was a fun Kitchen Challenge! Can't wait to see what they have in store for us for September. We're definitely in.


Popular posts from this blog

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

Aloo Tiki {Pakistan}

To start off our Pakistani culinary adventure, I started us off with aloo tiki - potato cutlets. I'm always game for tasty street food. I found a couple of different recipes and incorporated those together for this version. Ingredients 6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed 1 T cumin seeds 1 T fresh chopped parsley 1/2 t ground coriander 1 t minced garlic Procedure Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and let cool. Mash the potatoes. Traditionally they are mashed without their skins. I left the skins on. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat until the begin to give off an aroma and begin to darken. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to keep them from cooking any more. Blend all of the spices into the mashed potatoes, then shape into small patties. If you wet your hands, the potato mixture won't stick to them. Heat a splash of oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Dip each patty into beaten egg and carefully place in the oil. P

Hot Chocolate Agasajo-Style {Spice It Up!}

photo by D For my Spice It Up! kiddos this week, I was looking for an exotic drink to serve while we learned about saffron. I found a recipe from food historian Maricel Presilla that mimicked traditional Spanish hot chocolate from the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos . When I teach, I don't always get to shoot photos. Thankfully, D grabbed my camera and snapped a few. Ingredients serves 14-16 1 gallon organic whole milk 3 T dried rosebuds - or 2 t rosewater 2 t saffron threads, lightly crushed 3 T ground cinnamon 3 whole tepin chiles, crushed 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate Procedure In a large soup pot that can hold a gallon plus, combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater, if you are using that), saffron threads, ground cinnamon, chiles, vanilla beans, and sugar and warm over medium heat till it steams. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then lower heat an