Hallacas Venezuelan Tamales
Hallacas is the traditional dish of Venzuela, which more than any other foods, symbolizes Christmas.
- Prep: 30 minutes
- Cook: 3 hour 30 minutes
- Total time: 4 hours
- Recipe serves: 24 hallacas
Ingredients for the Meat Filling
- 1lb top round beef, cut into 1/4-to 1/2 inch-dice
- 1 lb lean pork, cut into 1/4-to 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 lb bacon, strips cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 1 onion, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons marjoram
- 1 medium leek, diced
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1 tablespoon mustard relish, pickle, minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 bell pepper, cut into 1/4-to-1/2-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup raisins
Ingredients for the Masa Dough
- 2/3 cup lard or 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon annatto seeds (achiote, optional for colour)
- 2 cups masa harina flour (dehydrated, treated corn flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
Ingredients for final preparations
- 2 packs of banana leaves (16 ounces each) or 24 (9-inch sqaure) parement paper or tinfoil
- 1lb shredded cooked chicken
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 1/4 cup blanched almond
- 2 ounces pimientos, sliced
- 5 ounces pimento stuffed olives, cut in half
- Tabasco sauce
Instructions for the Meat filling
- Put beef, pork, and bacon in a large pan.
- Puree the tomatoes with the peeled onion and garlic.
- Add mixture to the meat pan along with the salt, marjoram, and leek.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking until all meat is tender, about 2 hours.
- When meat is tender, add to the meat mixture the capers, mustard pickles, vinegar, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Raise the heat to high and cook the filling, stirring, until almost all liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
- Add the raisins and set filling aside.
Instructions for the Masa Dough
- Over a low heat, melt 1/3 cup lard with the annatto seeds.
- Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
- Whip remaining lard until fluffy.
- Beat in masa harina, salt, cayenne peper, and water.
- Finally, beat in melted, strained lard, discarding annatto seeds.
- Form dough into 24 balls.
Instructions for the final preparations
- Put a ball of Masa Dough in the center of each banana leaves.
- Flatten dough out to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Top each masa-coated husk with an equal distribution of the meat mixture, chicken, hard cooked eggs, almonds, pimentos, and olives.
- Sprinkle on Tabasco sauce to taste.
- Fold corn husks to completely encase the filling.
- Tie each hallaca with thin strips of corn husk or kitchen string.
- When tightly assembled, steam halacas for 1 hour.
- Serve piping hot.
NOTE: Hallacas are easily refrigerated or frozen. Reheat by steaming again until hot.