Makes about 12 humitas, depending on the size of the cornhusks
A well-prepared humita is a gourmand's delight. These humitas are generally made plain, but some cooks prefer to fill them with a piece of cheese or chicken or some other tidbit.
1. Have a large pot of water boiling. To remove the husks from the corn, use a sharp, heavy knife to cut through the corncob at the stem end, where the kernels start. Carefully remove the husks. Select the largest for wrapping and blanch in the boiling water for a couple of minutes to make them more pliable. Remove from the water with tongs and set on paper towels to drain. Save the rest to cut into strips for tying or to cover the humitas before steaming.
2. With a brush, remove the silk from the corn and rinse. Use the knife to cut the kernels from the cobs (you need 4 cups). Place in a food processor or blender along with the scallions and process until finely ground. Add the butter, egg yolks, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, cheese, and brandy. Pulse until everything is well incorporated and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl; the mixture should be thick, not runny. Add more cornmeal if the batter is runny.
3. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Carefully fold just enough into the corn mixture until it mounds.
4. To assemble the humitas, dry the cornhusks and place 2 on the worktable, overlapping them a little. Place a heaping 1/2 cup corn batter on the lower half of the husks, fold the left side over the center, fold the pointed end over, and finally fold the right side over toward the center. Tie around the middle with twine or cornhusk strips.
5. Place a quarter in the bottom of a steamer, add the water, and line the steamer basket with small cornhusks. Place a few humitas standing open end up in the steamer. Cover with leftover husks and a clean kitchen towel. Place the cover on the pot, bring to a boil, and steam until the humitas feel firm to the touch, about 30 minutes if small, 45 minutes if large. Add more boiling water if needed (the quarter will stop making noise when all the water has evaporated).
6. To serve, remove the twine and place on a plate with the husks opened to expose the humita. Serve with a dish of aji on the side.
NOTE If using dried cornhusks, soak them in hot water for a few minutes, dry, and use as instructed.
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This page modified February 2007
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