Huitlacoche and Corn Casserole

huitlacoche
I have been accused of being many things, but a timid eater is not one of them. I will try anything, (and will do my best to force it on others), which explains my delight in finding huitlacoche at a recent farmers market.

A member of the fungus species ustilago maydis, huitlacoche is also known as cuitlucoche, corn smut, devils corn, maize mushroom, and Mexican truffle.The name is derived from two words: cuitlatl (excrement) and cochi (sleeping). Now don’t you want to try it?

Technically, cuitlucoche is a fungus that grows on ears of corn. The Hopi, Zuni, and Aztec tribes have long considered it a delicacy, but farmers in the United States see it as a nuisance. Infected kernels expand as they fill with spores and become dark gray and black tumors or “galls.” Don’t let the appearance fool you, though. The smoky-sweet flavor, similar to mushrooms, is prized throughout Central America. It adds a delicious element to many recipes, especially chile-cheesy ones.

Fresh huitlacoche is available at some farmers’ markets in the late summer. You can also find it canned at most Latin American markets, although it’s not as good as fresh.

Come on ya big baby. Try it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 TB. butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roasted Anaheim, Poblano, or Pasilla chiles, diced
  • [1/4] cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • [1/4] cup fresh epazote, chopped
  • 1 lb. fresh or canned cuitlucoche
  • 1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 to 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 lb. panella cheese, grated

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 350[dg]F.

2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until golden brown. Add garlic, chiles, cilantro, and epazote, and continue cooking until tender. Add huitlacoche, corn, and whipping cream, and stir. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. In a casserole dish, layer huitlacoche -corn mixture with tortillas and grated cheese, as you would a lasagna, finishing with sauce and then cheese on the very top.

4. Cover casserole and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove lid and bake 5 more minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with fresh tomato salsa and sour cream.

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