Huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-KO-che) is a wonderful and mysterious delight sure to send thrills through the palate of any serious Mexican foodie. Considered a delicacy for its rarity in nature, and bestowed the title of truffle for its rich and smoky flavor, huitlacoche is technically a fungus or mushroom that grows on kernels of corn.
Traditionally used in quesadillas and soups, huitlacoche has a tender texture and earthy taste that easily wins over any eaters who may be hesitant due to its somewhat unflattering appearance. Masterfully paired with a luxurious melting cheese and its sharp epazote foil, this recipe creates a spectacular culinary sensation that will make an unforgettable impression.
Quesadillas de Huitlacoche
2 Tb oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ medium white onion, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
1 (16 oz) jar of huitlacoche*
3-4 Tb dried epazote (or to taste)
salt to taste
¾ lb Chihuahua cheese, cut into small strips
2 lbs tortilla masa (dough for making tortillas)**
* Huitlacoche can also be found spelled cuitlacoche as is the case with the Rancho Santa Maria brand.
** This dough should be made with finely ground corn and can be purchased at many Mexican grocers who sell dough that is made in-house and is specifically for tortillas. In addition, Atotonilco and La Guadalupana are 2 local pre-packaged brands that will also work.
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic, onions, and chiles and sauté until onions are transparent. Reduce heat and add huitlacoche and epazote to the skillet and cook for another 8-10 minutes until well seasoned and slightly reduced. Check for salt. This mixture should not be too runny. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat comal or griddle to medium high heat. Take amounts of masa about the size of a large golf ball and roll it into a ball. Flatten it out into a thin tortilla (can be done with a tortilla press or by hand on a small piece of cleaned, plastic grocery bag). Carefully peel off the tortilla and place on the dry (or LIGHTLY greased comal). Do not be afraid to put this dough on a dry comal. It will release from the comal as it cooks. Do not add a lot of oil as this recipe is not intended to be fried. Once first side of tortilla has cooked and can be easily released, flip it over. On one half of the tortilla place 3 tablespoons of huitlacoche filling and a strip of Chihuahua cheese and fold over. Continue to cook until tortilla is toasted on both sides and cheese has melted. Serve immediately with a salsa of your choice. Yield: Approximately 12-14 quesadillas.
Quesadillas de huitlacoche in Chicago:
Quesadillas de huitlacoche are a bit more specialized and are not as commonly found in restaurants in Chicago, but one location that can be recommended is El Rey del Taco y el Burrito in Brighton Park. For the Mexican foodie do-it-yourselfer, Pete’s Fresh Market on Kedzie carries the Goya brand of canned huitlacoche and the Cermak Produce chain carries the Rancho Santa Maria brand in a jar.