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  Added: Oct 24, 2006  •  Visited (908)  •  Print version Print this recipe (79)  •  eMail recipe eMail recipe (1)  •  Write review  •  Not rated Rate this recipe
Steamed Banana Leaves With Chicken And Meat Filling
(Hallacas Centrales)
What You Need:
  • 3 cups dried white corn and 6 cups of cold water, or substitute three 1- pound-13-ounce cans of hominy
  • ½ cup lard
  • 1 teaspoon annatto (achiote) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • A 1½-to 2-pound chicken, cut into quarters
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless loin of pork, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 pound beef chuck, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped green peppers
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (see salsa cruda), or substitute 1 1/3 cups chopped, drained, canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed in cold water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ pound fresh pork fat, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ¾ cup seedless raisins
  • 25 pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 3 whole banana leaves plus 25 ten inch squares of white parchment paper, or substitute 50 ten-inch squares of white parchment paper

  • How To Cook:
    1. If you are using dried corn, combine it with the water in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.

    2. Drain off any excess water. Put the corn through the finest blade of a meat grinder and then put it through a food mill or a coarse sieve. If you are using hominy, drain it well and put it through a food mill.

    3. Melt ¼ cup of lard over moderate heat in a small skillet, add the annatto seeds and cook for 3 minutes. Strain the lard through a sieve and discard the seeds.

    4. With a spoon or your fingers, combine the remaining ¼ cup of lard with the corn. Add the strained lard and 1 teaspoon salt, and knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it is very smooth.

    1. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the chicken and 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.

    2. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set the stock aside for another use. Remove the skin from the chicken with a small knife or your fingers. Cut or pull the meat away from the bones. Discard the bones, and cut the meat into strips 1/8 inch wide and 1 to 1½ inches long.

    3. In a heavy 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over high heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the pork and beef cubes, and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate.

    4. Reduce the heat to moderate, and add the green peppers, onions and garlic to the oil remaining in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not brown.

    5. Add the tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes until the tomato juices evaporate and the sauce becomes a thick puree. Return the meat to the pan, add the capers, sugar, cumin, 1 tablespoon salt and black pepper, and reduce the heat to low.

    6. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the chicken strips and parsley, and set the pan aside off the heat.

    7. In a small skillet, cook the pork fat over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until it has rendered most of its fat. Do not let the pork brown. Using a fine sieve, drain the bits of pork fat and set them aside.

    1. Shape 3 tablespoons of the dough into a ball and place it in the center of a banana-leaf square or piece of parchment paper. With the fingers press the dough into a rectangle about 6 inches wide and 7 inches long diagonally across the center of the leaf or paper.

    2. Place 3 tablespoons of meat filling on the center of the dough and dot it with 2 or 3 pieces of pork fat, 4 or 5 raisins and 1 olive. Fold one corner of the leaf (against the grain) or of the paper over the filling and bring the opposite corner over on top of it.

    3. Bring the remaining corners up on the same side and lap them over each other to enclose the filling securely. Press all the sides down gently, trying not to tear the banana leaf if you are using one.

    4. Center the "hallaca" on a paper square and bring the edges of two opposite sides of the paper together above the "hallaca".

    5. Make a ½-inch fold along the two edges, then press the fold down over the "hallaca". Bring the open ends down over the seam side and tie the finished "hallaca" snugly with kitchen cord.

    TO COOK:
    1. When all the "hallacas" are filled, wrapped and tied, place them seam side down in several layers in a large colander. Place the colander in a deep pot and pour enough water into the pot to come to just below the bottom of the colander.

    2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Steam the "hallacas" for 1 hour, keeping the water at a slow boil and replenishing it with additional boiling water as it cooks away.

    3. With kitchen tongs, transfer the "hallacas" to a heated platter. They may be served at once or refrigerated overnight with no loss of flavor. Reheat by steaming them again for 30 minutes.

    1. If you are using banana leaves, cut away and discard the center ribs of the leaves with scissors, and carefully tear the leaves into 10-inch squares, following the veins of the leaf. (The leaf shreds easily if pulled against the vein.)

    2. Wash the squares in cold water, rubbing them with a cloth or sponge in the direction of the vein pattern.

    To Make: about 25
    This recipe is also available in:
    Cuisine » Americas » Venezuela
    Main Ingredient » Grains & Cereals » Corn
    Main Ingredient » Meat & Poultry » Chicken
    Main Ingredient » Meat & Poultry » Pork
    Dish » Appetizers


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