International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Tlacoyos

Woman making blue corn tlacoyos

(Mexican bean-stuffed masa patties)

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For a satisfying Mexican snack, it's hard to beat tlacoyos, thick ovals of toasted corn masa dough, stuffed with beans and adorned with toppings. They are a popular offering by street vendors in central Mexico.

Tlacoyos were traditionally served with just a bit of salsa and accompanied soups and stews. Over time, the tlacoyos served by street vendors have become increasingly elaborate. These days they are often smeared with sour cream (crema agria) and piled with shredded lettuce, salsa and a generous sprinkling of crumbled cheese. Tlacoyos are often made with blue corn masa, giving them an interesting hue.

A Mexico City variation of tlacoyos is the huarache. Huaraches — named after a style of Mexican sandal — are a bigger, foot-sized version of the tlacoyo. Unlike tlacoyos, huaraches usually get a generous meat topping of carne asada.

Salvadorans and Hondurans enjoy their own version of stuffed masa patties called the pupusa.

Makes 8 to 10 tlacoyos

Ingredients

Filling

  • Olive oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, minced -- 1/2
  • Refried black beans -- 2 cups

Dough

  • Masa harina -- 4 cups
  • Hot water -- 2 cups

Toppings

  • Sour cream (crema agria)
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Salsa
  • Queso fresco, or feta cheese, crumbled

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high flame. Add the onion and saute until the onion is cooked through, translucent and lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the refried beans. Cook the beans, stirring occasionally, until they become relatively dry, taking care not to burn them. The drier the beans are, the easier it will be to stuff the tlacoyos with them.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Work in more water, one tablespoonful at a time, if needed, to make a moist yet firm dough. A ball of the masa should not crack at the edges when you press down on it. Cover the masa and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Make a ball with about 1/2 cup of the masa. Use your hands to pat the ball out into a circle about 4 or 5 inches across. Holding the masa round in the palm of one hand, put about two tablespoons of the refried beans in the middle of the round. Use your other hand to fold over the sides of the round to cover the filling and pinch to seal.
  4. Lightly wet your hands and pat the filled masa into a patty about 1/3 inch thick, forming it into an oval shape about 4 inches wide and 5 or 6 inches long. A little bean filling may work its way out. That's okay, just use your fingers to cover it over with some masa. As you finish forming each tlacoyo, lay it out on a piece of plastic wrap
  5. Heat a lightly greased skillet or comal over medium-high flame. Lay a tlacoyo onto the skillet or comal and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all the tlacoyos are finished.
  6. To serve, spread some sour cream over each tlacoyo and top with some shredded lettuce, salsa and a good sprinkle of queso fresco. Serve immediately! Tlacoyos don't keep well.

Tlacoyo Variations

  • Masa: Use fresh masa if you can find it. The flavor is incomparable. Blue corn masa makes a colorful variation for tlacoyos.
  • Fillings: Other fillings for tlacoyos include shredded cheese and crumbled chicharrones (fried pork rinds).
  • Huaraches: Use about 1 cup of masa for each huarache. It's easiest to form two oval patties and lay them on plastic wrap. Form each with 1/2 cup of masa and make them about 5 inches wide and 8 inches long. Spread the filling on one of the patties, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around the edges. Lay the other pattie over the top of the first and press to seal the edges. Toast the huarache on the hot skillet or comal as for tlacoyos. Then top the huarache with sour cream, chopped carne asada, shredded lettuce, salsa and crumbled cheese.

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