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Receta de Zacahuil Para Hacer en Casa/Zacahuil Recipe to Make at Home

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The first time I ever ate Zacahuil was in a market in Panuco, Veracruz. This was back when my brothers and I used to spend the summer at my grandma’s farm. My uncle used to go to the market every Sunday, and one time, when I was about 10 years old, he took me with him. I can still remember to this day looking at all the colors of the vegetables on display, while my uncle chatted with the owner of the grocery store. As I held his hand, I used to watch all the people passing by, with everything around me filled with life and color. After we were done running errands, my uncle took me to have lunch. That was when I first saw it, the Zacahuil, a tamal as big as myself.

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Photo Courtesy of La Retama Verzcruz Blog
A “Zacahuil” is a large tamal about 4-6 feet long and is cooked in a wood oven. It is popular in the Huastec Region, formed by the states of San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and even the State of Queretaro, where it is commonly sold on the weekends at the local markets, or cooked for weddings and other special events. The dough has a course texture, and the Zacahuil is usually filled with either pork or a mixture of pork, chicken, or turkey. The recipe for the sauce, which is made with dry peppers, varies from region to region. It is always wrapped in banana leaves or other local plant leaves. A Zacahuil is served to customers on a plate and is eaten with a spoon.
This is my own version of a Zacahuil made at home and using what we have available here in the States. If you live in a state where fresh masa is sold, use that instead; make sure to ask the vendor for course ground masa for tamales.
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Makes 12 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 Lbs. Pork Pulp cut in cubes about 1/2 in.
  • 1/2 large white onion roasted
  • 6 garlic cloves roasted
  • 6 Guajillo Peppers
  • 10 Ancho Peppers
  • 4 Morita Peppers
  • 2 Pounds Corn Dough *(See notes)
  • 2 1/2 cups of lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 4 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 large banana leaves fresh or defrosted (if using the frozen ones)
  • 1 large Turkey Size oven baking bag
Directions:
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1. Clean and devein the dried peppers and place in a bowl with warm water. Let them soak there for about 30 minutes or until they’re soft. If you prefer to roast the peppers before placing them in warm water, do so on an ungreased skillet, like they do in some parts of Mexico.
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2. Drain the peppers, reserving the water. Place the peppers, roasted onion, garlic cloves and some of the soaking water in the blender. Process until you have a smooth puree. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve if needed to obtain a uniform texture.
3. Meanwhile, mix the (Masa) corn dough with the lard, chicken broth, baking powder and 1/2 cup of the pepper sauce and beat with your hands until it resembles a thick batter (if you have a Kitchen Aid, use it to do the work for you).
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4. Clean the bananas leaves with a wet paper towel and run the leaves slowly over a medium flame. The leaf will turn shiny and become soft and pliable.
5. Slowly run the banana leaves over the gas or electric stove as seen HERE to make them pliable. Cover a 9” X 13” baking dish or other rectangular oven proof dish with the leaves, leaving the excess part of the leaves draping outside the dish like flaps to cover the top part of the Zacahuil. Spread half of the prepared batter of (masa) corn dough at the bottom of the dish. After that, spread with the uncooked pork meat pieces, cover with the pepper sauce, and add the remaining half of the dough, spreading evenly. Fold the hanging banana leaves flaps, like if you were wrapping a package.
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6. Now, place the whole baking dish inside the Oven Baking Bag and close. Place it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. The leaves will release a slight smoky flavor while baking. After this time, open the bag and check if the meat is done. The corn dough should have a golden crust in the outside areas and the inside will be a little bit soft. If it needs more baking, cover and return to the oven for a few more minutes.
When done, remove the bag and let stand for about 15-20 minutes to wait for the dough to firm up a little bit more.
Zacahuil7 The Zacahuil is served on plates that have a little piece of a fresh banana leave on them and is eaten with a spoon. Some people add pickled jalapeños and carrots.
Notes:
* Prepare the (Masa) corn dough  mixing 5 cups of corn masa harina for Tamales with 5 cups of chicken broth or water.
** You can also add chicken cut in pieces.
Provecho!
Mely

















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32 comments:

  1. OMG! pense que era una broma eso de "Zacahuil" mi esposo siempre le dice así al perro cuando esta jugando con el "ven para aca zacahuil travieso" jajaja, y ahora veo de lo que se trata.

    Gracias por ilustrarme con esta información tan valiosa, y por supuesto con tan rica receta.

    Saludos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Todavia me estoy riendo con lo del perro.
      Feliz Semana Ruth!

      Mely

      Delete
    2. Hola hola,Mely y saludos desde el estado de Arkansas,, a mi me gusta mucho el zacahuil yo soy de la huasteca potosina, y me gustaria saber si tienes esta pagina en el idioma espanol ya q me gustaria preparar esta receta, ...gracias!!! :)

      Delete
    3. Hola Gerardo,

      Tengo mi blog en español: Mexico en mi cocina. Pero aún no tengoe sa receta al español. Por mientras usa la herramienta de traducción que se encuentra arriba en la columna de la derecha. Es el traductor de google y hasta ahorita creo es el que mejor traduce al español.

      Saludos!

      Mely

      Delete
  2. This looks delicious Mely, I would love to do a taste test.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've never had Mexican food from the southern regions. Looks so yummy! But I do love the music from the Huasteca region.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds delicious, but probably too complicated for me. I doubt our small town has banana leaves. I am always worried those dried peppers are going to be too hot for me. I am just now learning to make my own Enchilada sauce!!! LOL! And it was much better than the canned.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My husband was born in Panuco, Ver and raised in Ebano SLP and I've eaten Zacahuil a few times now, so delicious!!! He would be so impressed if I made it at home, thanks for the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. My husband was born in Panuco, Ver and raised in Ebano SLP. I've had Zacahuil a few times in Ebano and it is very delicious!!! He would be very impressed if I made this at home, thanks for the recipe :) btw we live in Qro now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Candice,

      Believe me it taste like the one in the Veracruz area. I took me back to Panuco o Poza Rica's markets.

      Thanks for you comment.

      Mely

      Delete
    2. Saludos a tu esposo. la verdad q ahi en nuestro pueblito de arrullo si que preparan un rico Zacahuil

      Delete
  7. Mely, nunca había visto un tamal tan grande! La receta se ve riquísima pero en verdad me gustaría ver un zacahuil grande como el de la foto, me imagino que el sabor y aroma de el cocido en horno de leña es increíble. Seguramente probare tu versión muy pronto.
    Besos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola Prieta,

      Si la experiencia de comerlo en donde lo haces es unica. Pero no te creas este sabe igual a los que venden en los mercados.

      Ojala lo pruebes y em dejes saber como te quedo.

      Saludos,

      Mely

      Delete
  8. This looks really good, but when you say pork pulp? do you mean any kind of pork meat??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Christina,

      Yes, it could be from pork shoulder, pork leg or pork ribs cut in pieces. The pork tenderloin is to dry, so avoid that part.

      Happy cooking.

      Mely

      Delete
  9. This looks really good , but when you say pork pulp what exactly do you mean? is it any pork meat cut in cubes?? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mely, que rico y qué antojo! Te voy a enviar la foto del zacahuil que hice con mi hijo para una muestra gastronómica, fue toda una odisea hornearlo en la casa!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola Nora,

      Por eso yo lo puse en el refractario para tenerlo como base.

      Saludos!

      Mely

      Delete
  11. hola, dejame decirte que me hiciste el dia jejeje, yo comi zacahuil en poza rica, ver. yo soy del puerto de veracruz y vivo en usa.. desde cuando traia un antojo de zacahuil, se ve riquisimo y gracias por poner paso a paso la elaboracion :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola Quitzia,

      Ojala lo cocines, te va a gustar. Yo tambien lo he comido en el mercado de Poza Rica, Ver. Rico, rico. Saludos!

      Mely

      Delete
  12. Mely,
    un día lo haré, tengo que conseguir las hojas de platano, eso es lo mas difícil, pero el horno de leña ya está listo.

    Qué delicia, se me hizo agua a la boca.

    Un abrazo
    Tlaz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flavio,

      no hay excusa, usa papel aluminio o papel para hornear. Aqui asi hacen los tamales la gente de el Salvador porque no siempre encuentran hojas de platano. Ya me imagino los sabores en tu horno de leña.

      Un abrazo,

      Mely

      Delete
  13. I love dishes like this - they make such a unique presentation. That is the BIGGEST tamale I've ever seen! Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hola Mely!

    Mmmm riquísimo, me encanta pero yo no lo he preparado, mil gracias por la receta!

    Besos!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hola Mely!

    Mmmm riquísimo, me encanta pero yo no lo he preparado, mil gracias por la receta!

    Besos!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Holy smokes! I've never heard of those and now I see why, what an amazing culinary creation.

    ReplyDelete
  17. looks so good and wow its huge great and informative post

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for sharing!
    We lived in Poza Rica, Veracruz for a year and a half and learned to love zacahuil.
    More than 5 years passed, and today, we found a family that started to sell zacahuil on Saturdays here in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
    Many people are asking "what is that?", so I'm searching for photos and info on it... thinking on making one at our home, thanks to your recipe.
    Greetings from México.
    Jorge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola desde Fort Worth, Texas, Jorge! I spent many summers in Rosita during my youth. In adulthood, I've become my family's tamalera. My parents still travel to Rosita via Piedras Negras often. I was wondering if you could tell me where these folks set up or how I might contact them. I recently discovered the Zacahuil and would love the opportunity to learn how to prepare it using the outdoor oven. Please respond to Neaves58@yahoo.com Saludos! :)

      Delete
  19. Thanks for sharing!
    We lived in Poza Rica, Veracruz for a year and a half and learned to love zacahuil.
    More than 5 years passed, and today, we found a family that started to sell zacahuil on Saturdays here in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
    Many people are asking "what is that?", so I'm searching for photos and info on it... thinking on making one at our home, thanks to your recipe.
    Greetings from México.
    Jorge.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for your nice comments Jorge.

    I had tried Zacahuil in different towns of the Huasteca region, but so far my favorite is the one sold at the Market in Poza Rica, Ver.

    Saludos,

    Mely

    ReplyDelete

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