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Huaraches

June 30, 2014

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I cannot recall whether ever I’ve seen these in my Central Texas area of Austin and San Antonio.  They are more likely to be found in a small family owned restaurant with close ties to Mexico. They are a popular snack or meal in Mexico where they can be found in restaurants or as street food.  The base for these is nothing more than corn tortilla dough pressed and shaped like a huarache (sandal) and then cooked very much like a tortilla.  They are thicker and so a little more substantial than the flexible tortilla. You can top them with whatever you desire. Taco, mollete, or chalupa fillings are several points of departure.  I’m opting for refried black beans, pan roasted nopal (cactus), and a homemade salsa.  Epazote,  which I used in the beans and as garnish worked well with the other flavors.  Recipes will follow.

Huaraches are more of a street or rustic, almost messy affair in its presentation.  You usually won’t see much of a garnish on the plate.  It’s hard to translate that in my kitchen with  foods sometimes.  I didn’t even try to recreate that feel.  But this is how I would probably serve them for guests or friends in my home.  It’s one thing for a street vendor or restaurant to have all the ingredients on hand at all times,  putting together plate after plate of food.  It’s another for a home cook to make this as a special meal for family and friends.

Another version of huaraches is one where black refried beans are stuffed in a egg-shaped portion of dough. It is then pressed into the oblong shape like this simpler version. I don’t know which style came first.

very highly recommend using fresh prepared masa from your local tortilleria, or international supermarket. If you must, use masa harina  which comes dry and requires the addition of water.  Two brands are “Quaker” and “Maseca”.  The huaraches taste much better if made from prepared masa.  No matter how much I tweaked the dry counterpart , it never could measure up to those made with the fresh masa.  When done cooking,  the huaraches have a thin crispy exterior and a softer interior. At least that is how I prefer them.  It is a wonderful texture and in fact I enjoy eating without the toppings and adding perhaps a drizzle of fresh salsa or olive oil.

If buying fresh masa from your tortilleria, 2 pounds will be plenty.  A supermarket may sell it in 5 pound sizes.

You can make them any size you wish.  I remember seeing them large enough to fill an entire plate.  Small ones make great appetizers.  Let your culinary imagination go wild.

Have your toppings all ready before you start making the huaraches.  It can be as simple as guacamole or refried beans with pico de gallo or as elaborate as you wish.  Once again I’m going vegetarian and vegan.  Have you noticed I haven’t mentioned cheese until now?

 

If using fresh masa,  determine if it is moist enough.  The masas will differ slightly in moisture depending on the tortilleria.  You will very likely need to add water to soften it up.  Take a small portion in your hand and flatten it or use a press if you have one.  The edges should remain smooth. Mix in water as is necessary to get it to this texture. A tiny bit of cracking at the extreme edges should be okay. Once again, experience is the best teacher here.  Don’t forget to season it with salt before you start mixing the water in.  For 1 pound of masa, I estimated I added about 1 teaspoon.

If using masa harina, follow the directions for making tortillas as recommended.  You will probably have to add more water to get it to the right consistency.  Add a little salt for seasoning, about a heaping 1/2 teaspoon per 2 cups.  Cover and let sit for about an hour so that the water properly absorbs into the harina.  Hopefully you will not have to make some final adjustments.

 

Let’s start making the huaraches!

If forming the huaraches by hand, you will need two pieces of plastic wrap.  If using a tortilla press, use plastic wrap or preferably parchment paper.

It’s important to keep your masa covered at all times to prevent it from drying.

Heat up your cast iron pan or comal to medium. Dab a little bit of vegetable shortening to evenly coat.

By hand: Take a portion of dough and form it into a cylinder.  My 2 ounce portions were 4 inches by 1/2 inch in size.  Place it on a piece of plastic wrap.  Cover it with the other piece and press it into an oblong sandal shape with your fingers.  They don’t have to be perfect.  Just try to get them about 1/4 ” thick.  Carefully remove the top plastic. With the bottom plastic still clinging, pick up the dough, flip it over onto your free hand, and carefully remove the second piece of plastic. Place the dough on your hot pan. It should sizzle as it makes contact.  Leave it undisturbed for about 3 minutes, then flip it over.  There should be some nice golden spots.  You might not avoid a few darker spots. If the huaraches seem like they are browning too quickly, lower the heat. Cook the other side another 3 or so minutes.  Flip it again and go another minute or so.  It is ready to be topped with your favorite ingredients. If it seems dry throughout, either the dough was not properly moistened or it cooked too long.

With a tortilla press: Form a portion into a cylinder as above, and place it on a tortilla press that has been lined with parchment paper.  Cover the dough with another piece of parchment and press to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Proceed as above,  carefully removing the dough from the parchment paper.

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With this tortilla press I had to rotate the dough 180 degrees after a first press, then pressed again to get it to an even thickness.

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Huaraches are best eaten right away when still hot.  I don’t understand why they are not more popular here since they are easier to make than corn tortillas.  Corn tortillas are rarely home made nowadays.  It’s convenient to pick them up at the store or tortilla factory.  Huaraches are not available pre-made.  Maybe that’s why they haven’t caught on. They haven’t been seen that much this side of the border.

I’m kind of excited about this post. I hope my friends are just as excited.  I’ll share this with my blogger friends at The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday.

 

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2014 5:42 am

    Hi Gerard, these look great, thank you for background and info, I’d never heard of them before. And I love your tortilla press, I could definitely do with one of them!!! Thank you for bringing this fab dish to this weeks Fiesta Friday…and please save some for me!!! ☺️

  2. June 30, 2014 5:45 am

    (I’m still in love with your tortillas from last week!!)

    • June 30, 2014 11:21 pm

      Hi Elaine, Thank you for hosting Fiesta Friday again! These are so easy to whip up. Once you have the dough ready (make enough for a couple of days), prep time is literally seconds for each huarache. You’re set to go for the next few days.
      I appreciate the nice comments!

  3. June 30, 2014 1:15 pm

    You’ve really convinced me I must try tortillas and now huaraches. We do not have a tortilleria anywhere near us, so I will have to devise my own method for making these.

    • June 30, 2014 11:26 pm

      Hi Hilda, It seems that many supermarkets are carrying more Latin-American products. You might check them for the masa harina, (instant tortilla dough, just add water!). I have always found them in the baking goods aisle next to the flour. I hope you can try them out.

  4. June 30, 2014 4:48 pm

    Thank you for the photos of the tortilla press. I may have to get one of those babies!

  5. June 30, 2014 5:37 pm

    They are looking fabulous! What a pity that I can’t get hold of the ingredients here 😦

    • June 30, 2014 11:50 pm

      Hi Ginger, I wonder if a supermarket near you carries the dough in the dry form that I mentioned. Maybe they are where you would find arepas corn flour. I remembered your post on arepas. I wish you could try some of these.
      I’ve been enjoying your road to the World Cup!

      • July 1, 2014 5:14 am

        I was actually thinking the same thing last night – I haven’t been yet to the little Portuguese shop where my friends get their South American ingredients from – who knows what I will find! Watch this space, I suppose 😉

    • July 1, 2014 10:27 pm

      I would be curious to know what kind of products are sold there. Yes I’ll watch this space!

  6. July 1, 2014 8:14 pm

    OMG these look so darn good! I must make them.

  7. adlibitam permalink
    July 7, 2014 3:18 pm

    Howdy and Hola! It looks like we are neighbors (I live north of Austin)?
    Hi and let me express how happy I am to come across someone’s blog that features (1) vegan (!) (2) local and Mexican (!!!!) (3) step by step (!!) recipes. I also appreciate the part where you tell the story behind.

    Anna

    • July 7, 2014 8:19 pm

      Hi Anna! Nice to meet you. Yes, I’m from Austin. You are right, I try to keep it local and Mexican and perhaps looking to the future. I’m not vegan all the way, as that is something I am slowly going to. But I am making the effort to put only vegan recipes. It is difficult sometimes when making certain traditional food.
      Also, stories behind recipes or traditions are interesting to me. I like it as well when others share theirs.
      Thank you very much for visiting and following!
      Gerard

  8. July 14, 2014 2:27 pm

    SO Fabulous!! I must try it… my tortilla press is completely underutilized 😦
    These look really delicious- Thank you!!

  9. July 17, 2014 4:53 pm

    They look delicious Gerard! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. July 27, 2014 11:20 am

    Loved this Gerard and thanks for introducing a detailed work on Huaraches. I have often seen Masa Harina flour being sold in grocery stores. Have read about it but always wondered how to use it. I will be so making these Huaraches soon.
    Hope you are doing well :).
    Sonal

    • July 27, 2014 12:54 pm

      Thank you Sonal, I hope you enjoy making them, please let me know how it goes. They can sometimes come out dry if I’m not careful. If you find fresh masa-I’ve found that those from different tortilla factories differ in results.
      I hope all is well!

  11. leckerfoodie permalink
    December 7, 2014 10:51 am

    So many stylish kitchen utilities out there! Nice post! I guess one could apply these techniques to all kinds of different masses? (e.g. http://leckerbiss.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/delicious-mediterenean-style-salty-pancakes-a-recipe-containing-sweet-lupines/)

    • December 7, 2014 1:45 pm

      Hi! I’ve only used the tortilla press for Mexican foods like tortillas and huaraches but you’re right, I’m sure you could use it for other foods. Other non-leavened doughs or masas come to mind. I never have thought about that before.
      I don’t think I’ve come across sweet lupines. Thanks for sending me the link!
      Thank you for commenting and following!

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  1. Fiesta Friday #22 | The Novice Gardener

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