If you can close your eyes and imagine the sweet aroma of a steamed corn dumpling, you’ll have a pretty good idea about Corundas. Corundas come from the Mexican State of Michoacán, where the indigenous peoples, known as the Purépechas, have been making them for generations. A quick glance at the ingredients list and your mind will settle quickly on tamales. Corundas are made from corn flour, or masa harina, like tamales, but they don’t usually have fillings, with the exception of cheese and a sprinkling of vegetables. Sold from food carts and stalls, corundas are typically triangular in shape and are steamed in fresh corn leaves, not dried husks like tamales.
The following recipe for cheese corundas relies heavily on the flavor of corn from the masa and a great cheese, because it lacks the familiar flavors of smoky pork or spicy shredded beef that you are probably used to in a tamal.
Cacique® Queso Quesadilla cheese is perfect for making corundas. The cheese has a soft nutty flavor with a creamy mouth feel, and like the name implies, it melts spectacularly.
If you can’t locate fresh corn leaves to wrap the corundas, simply substitute plantain leaves like I did. (I promise I won’t tell.) Plantain leaves are tougher, so take the time to soak them in really hot water for at least an hour, or until pliable. They are also bigger, so you’ll need about 1 whole leaf per dozen. Also, when making the masa, keep it on the firm side so it doesn’t ooze out the seams. And the amount of cheese you use is entirely up to you. Corundas take some practice, but you’ll be a pro by your second dozen.
This recipe easily doubles and freezes remarkably well. For group events, make them a little smaller and serve as appetizers or as a side for carne asada. If you want to serve them as a meal, bulk up the size and serve alongside Spanish rice and homemade beans. Don’t forget to spoon on the salsa and drizzle on some Cacique® Crema Mexicana!
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WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 plantain leaf
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 4 poblano peppers
- 1 pound tomatillos, husked
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered
- 3 serrano chiles
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups lard
- 4 cups masa harina (corn flour)
- 1 10 ounce package Cacique® Queso Quesadilla cheese, cubed
- Cacique® Crema Mexicana to serve
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Begin by soaking your plantain leaf for an hour or until pliable. Use boiling hot water for quicker results.
- Rub the poblano peppers with the vegetable oil. Char them all over until the skin is blistered and black. Put them in a plastic bag. Allow them to steam until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. To clean them, run them under cold water until clean. Cut into thin strips and reserve.
- Make the salsa: In a medium pot combine the tomatillos, onion, serranos, garlic and water. Allow to boil over medium high heat until the onions have softened, about 8-10 minutes. Carefully spoon the ingredients into a blender. Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper and liquefy. Reserve the water for your masa.
- Make the masa: In a large bowl combine the baking powder, salt, lard and masa harina. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Slowly add the cooled reserved water from boiling the tomatillos. For this recipe you’ll use about 2 cups, but add it as needed. The masa should be smooth and be able to hold its shape. Divide the masa into 12 equal parts and roll into balls. (Dip your hands into the reserved water if they seem too dry.)
- Assemble the corundas: Flatten the masa balls in your hand. Press cubes of Cacique® Queso Quesadilla and strips of poblanos in the center. Pull the edges toward the center to cover and roll gently into a ball again. Repeat with 11 masa balls.
- Cut the softened plantain leaf in long thin strips big enough to hold your masa balls. Place the masa ball on one end. Corundas are triangular, so fold the end accordingly. Your dough should be pretty sturdy, so feel free to manipulate the masa into a triangular shape by pressing and gently squeezing. (It’s like folding those paper footballs for table-football.)
- Stack the wrapped corundas over a steamer basket in a medium-large pot. Fill with just enough water to come up to the steamer basket. Cover and steam until cooked through, about 90 minutes. Allow to set covered for about 10 minutes until set. Serve warm with tomatillo sauce and Cacique® Crema Mexicana.