Appetizers and Side dishes — By Ben on 29 October 2010
Huitlacoche Quesadillas

There are a lot of ingredients I didn’t like when I was growing up. I mentioned on this post that pumpkin flowers was one of them. But there was one that made me cringe just thinking about it, huitlacoche or corn smut. But when I grew up and started experimenting with food and new flavors I gave them a second chance and now they are among my favorite ingredients to cook with.

I’ve posted a recipe with this delicate ingredient before when I found a can of it at a Mexican store in Columbus. But having the real thing is way better, there’s no comparison with the canned stuff. Last Saturday when I was visiting my parents I went to the mercadito (little market. However, it stopped being little a long time ago to become a 3/4 mile street and farmer’s market) that comes to the neighborhood every week. Among the ingredients I bought for the following day’s lunch was a fresh batch of huitlacoche:

Huitlacoche

But what is that, you might be wondering. Huitlacoche is the corn kernels of a diseased corn ear infected by a fungus. The word huitlacoche (also spelled as cuitlacoche sometimes) comes from Nahuatl, the language spoke by the Aztecs and other civilizations of central Mexico. There’s some debate about what the correct meaning of the word is, but some experts say it means excrement of the gods. Appetizing, isn’t it?

It is considered a delicacy in Mexico and sells for considerably higher prices than regular corn. However, in the US and Europe markets it hasn’t been as accepted even though high-profile chefs and restaurants have tried to create a buzz around this ingredient. It has even been called the Mexican truffle.

Maybe in the future it will be more popular, but for now I can share with you some delicious ways to eat it. The most common one in Mexico is probably in quesadillas. The huitlacoche has to be prepared first and then used as a stuffing in tortillas with cheese. We served them as a side dish for Sunday’s lunch that I will be posting soon.

Huitlacoche Quesadillas
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: About 12
 
Ingredients
  • •2 TBSP olive oil
  • •1 lb fresh huitlacoche or 2 8-oz cans
  • •1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • •2 garlic cloves, minced
  • •1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • •2 tsp dry epazote or 1 tbsp fresh one, chopped
  • •salt and pepper to taste
  • •1/4 pound Oaxaca cheese or any other melting cheese
  • •12 corn tortillas
Instructions
  1. Sautee onion in olive oil on a large frying pan. When the onion becomes translucent add the garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add huitlacoche, pepper and epazote and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes stirring constantly. This will prevent the huitlacoche from oozing a lot of liquid and becoming slimy.
  3. Season to taste and when it becomes tender turn heat off and set apart.
  4. In a griddle, comal or large pan, make the quesadillas by warming up the tortillas a little bit then stuffing them with cheese slices and some of the cooked huitlacoche and folding them in half.
  5. Serve with avocado or fresh salsa and enjoy!

Huitlacoche quesadilla

Huitlacoche quesadilla

¡Buen provecho!

This post is my entry for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event. This week’s host is Chriesi of Almond Corner. Please visit her blog after October 31st for the roundup.

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(14) Readers Comments

  1. Now that's an unusual ingredient Ben. I did see it on a food network show when they were visiting a mountain village in Mexico. Some day I may be able to try it in real time.

  2. That looks so good! I wonder how you eat it, though… ;-P

    cheers,

    Rosa

  3. I have to say, I've never heard of "corn smut" before because you have the uncanny ability to make just about anything look enticing. Delicious? Who knows. But it looks so.

  4. I know I’ve eaten them before but I think they were served as a minor ingredient…not the star of the show. I don’t remember how I felt about them, but that stack looks mighty impressive and I’d definitely dive in for a taste.

  5. They look so yummy stacked up like that. I love these Mexican recipes you share with us. I really would love to taste the huitlacoche.

    Have a marvelous weekend :D
    Mari

  6. Wow, I've seen this before in cooking magazines and shows. but I didn't think it was available in the States. Always wanted to try it. Sounds and looks so intriguing.

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  7. I've seen this before, but never in real life. It seems so disgusting, but then I think that we eat a lot of other fungus type food too, so how could it be that bad? In any case, I doubt I will be getting any fresh any time soon, but if I do, I'm going to give it a chance!

  8. Huitlacoche is new, very interesting.

  9. Huitlacoche… now the name alone makes me break my tongue! Corn smut, didn't really sound appetizing either and then you start telling me it is somehow corn that is attacked by a fungus.. lol… But then again; you did make me very curious now! The end result sure looks delicious enough to give it a try. I just hope that if I get to mexico and eat this, they forget to explain what it is exactly!

  10. How totally interesting! I would say this is the KING of leftovers! Let nothing go to waste! :)

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