Relleno Negro, a gastronomic heritage of the Mayas

Photo: (Recetas)

Animal Gourmet Mèrida, Yucatàn, (May 21, 2021).- In addition to the cochinita pibil and the lime soup, the Relleno negro – a stew made from burnt dried chili peppers and turkey – is one of the most representative dishes of Yucatecan cuisine.

This delicacy represents the gastronomic heritage of the Maya and the Spanish additions with two main ingredients: the “recado negro” and the “but” or ground turkey meatballs.

Photo: (Animal Gourmet)

In pre-Hispanic times, the black recado was prepared with dried red chili peppers that were ground into a paste that was later diluted to make a kind of not-so-thick mole with which the meat of the prey they hunted was covered. During the conquest, the recipe was prepared with pork and Castile hen, but now it is customary with turkey.

There is no better way to learn how to prepare ‘Relleno negro’ than from traditional Maya cooks. Izamal, a magical town in Yucatán, is home to Kinich,  one of the most important traditional Yucatecan cuisine restaurants in the state. This spacious and cozy restaurant was the home of its owner, Miriam Azcorra, whose grandmother was responsible for the exquisite recipes that are now in the hands of the traditional cooks of this restaurant.

Panuchos de relleno negro | Cocina Fácil
Panuchos of Relleno Negro. Photo: (Cocina Fàcil)

The Kinich cooks explain that the traditional technique for cooking the Relleno negro (black stuffing) is done underground with the aim that the smoke flavor permeates well. A hole about 40 centimeters deep is dug, firewood or charcoal is added and as soon as the embers begin to burn, stones are placed and, on top of them, a pot with the stew. It is then covered with soil until the meat is cooked and ready.

To prepare black recado, the country or paisita chilies, dried, are burned until they are completely black. They are then ground with spices – including pepper, cloves, and cumin -, roasted garlic, and roasted onions into a paste, which is then slipped with water. You can also buy the pasta already made in any market and cook everything on the stove.

Taquería El Campeón a domicilio en Mérida | Menú y precios | Uber Eats
Photo: (Social media)

Do you dare to prepare it? 

RELLENO NEGRO (10 SERVINGS)

INGREDIENTS: 

For the black recado 

  • 50 dried Yucatecan chiles or cha’wa (country or country chile)
  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 4 fat peppers
  • 4 black peppers
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin grains
  • 3 garlic cloves roasted
  • 1/2 roasted onion

For the chicken (or turkey) and but (a kind of meatball that is cooked inside this stew)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Water
  • 3 fat peppers
  • 3 black peppers
  • Charcoal for embers
  • 400 grams of ground pork
  • Salt
  • 2 tomatoes roasted and chopped
  • 1/2 onion roasted and chopped
  • 1 x’catik chili pepper without veins or seeds, finely chopped
  • 10 epazote leaves
  • 100 grams of corn masa diluted
  • Chicken cooking broth

PROCESS

For the black recado:

1.Heat a comal or frying pan and place the chilies. With the help of a match or a lighter, set them on fire until they are completely incinerated.

2. Turn off the heat, and add them to the salted water. Rest for 24 hours or at least one night to reduce the bitter and ashy sensation.

3. The next day, drain and grind with the rest of the ingredients to form a smooth and homogeneous paste. Reserve it for later.

For the chicken and but:

1. Cook the chicken in plenty of water with the peppers. Remove the chicken and reserve the cooking liquid.

2. In the drained chicken, spread a little of the black recado and place on the hot embers or on a surface to brown. Return to the cooking broth once golden.

3. Mix the meat with salt, tomato, onion and chili. Make balls in the shape of meatballs and keep cold.

4.In the broth where the chicken is, cook the beef balls. Add epazote to flavor and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

5. Add the diluted mass and strained to thicken slightly. Cook for 10 more minutes over low heat to thicken and incorporate all the flavors.

6.To serve, remove a piece of chicken, place a meatball or but, and serve the black filling on top of the ingredients.

7. Accompany with freshly made tortillas and chopped habanero peppers.

Los almendros
Photo: (Social Media)

Source: Animal Gourmet

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