I found on the internet on the website "Epicurious" a recipe for "tlacoyos". On the streets of Mexico City or in the market stalls you will often see women making these corn-meal patties.
Last week I made a trip to the Mexican supermarket in Cleveland to get the ingredients that I needed for this recipe. The most important ingredient that I needed to buy was "masa harina", the corn flour which is used to make tortillas.
They had three different varieties of "masa harina". The standard type is "blanco" (white), but it came in a big five pound bag, and I knew that most of it would go to waste. They had smaller bags of "amarillo" (yellow) and "azul" (blue), so I picked up a bag of "amarillo". I later asked Alejandro if the "amarillo" was OK, and he said that yes, it was better than the white, and that the blue would have been best of all.
I also picked up a couple items for the garnishes... "queso fresco" (a crumbly Mexican cheese) and "crema" (the Mexican version of sour cream). However, one could use regular sour cream and cheese that are found in ordinary supermarkets.
I began by making the filling. My first deviation from the recipe was to use olive oil instead of lard. After heating the oil in a frying pan, I added a wedge of white onion. I kept turning it until it was blistered and slightly charred on all sides. Then I drained a can of black beans (reserving the liquid) and added the beans to the frying pan. I seasoned with some salt and mashed the beans roughly. In the process that wedge of onion broke up into the mixture. If it became too dry, I added a bit of the reserved liquid.
Having completed the bean filling, I set it aside in a bowl.
Next came the preparation of the "masa" or dough. I put 1 1/2 cups of the "masa harina" in a bowl and added 1 cup of warm water. I kneaded the "masa" for about five minutes. You should test to see if the dough needs to be moister by taking a small quantity of "masa" in your fingers. If the edges are cracked, add a little more water... as much as 1/2 cup if necessary.
Now comes the fun part. The recipe said that it might be a bit difficult until you get the hang of it, but I did not seem to have any problem. Take some dough and form a ball a little bigger than a golf ball, then flatten it in your palm until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Then add a spoonful of the bean mixture onto the middle of the disc of "masa".
Fold up the sides of the disc around the bean mixture and pinch the dough shut. It looks like a turnover.
The recipe says that it yields six to eight "tlacoyos". Maybe my idea of a golf ball is a bit bigger, but I only got five of them.
I wanted to see how they tasted so I continued by separating three "tlacoyos" to put in the freezer and two to eat for lunch.
The "tlacoyos" are put in a dry, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Keep turning them until both sides freckled and the surface is solid.
After those three had cooled, I wrapped them and put them in the freezer. I went through the same process of heating the remaining two in the dry skillet. However, Alejandro told me another step which was not in the recipe. The "tlacoyos" he said will have a much better flavor if you fry them in oil before eating. So that is what I did.
I then added the garnishes... a bit of the bean mixture that was left over, some diced raw onion, some salsa, some crumbled "queso fresco" and a dollop of "crema" (You can garnish your "tlacoyos" as you please. The recipe called for slices of pickled cactus, but I am not that fond of them.)
So here is the finished product. Lunch is served!
They are probably not as good as they ones made by the women on the street on their "comales" (griddles), but mine were quite tasty. My only criticism of the recipe was that the dough tasted rather bland. I asked Alejandro if it is OK to add a little salt when preparing the "masa", and he said "yes". I still have plenty of the corn flour, so I will definitely make "tlacoyos" again!