Relleno negro: Yucatecan Black Stuffing

In addition to cochinita pibil and sopa de lima, relleno negro -a stew made from burnt dried chiles 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 protagonists: the recado negro and the “but” or ground turkey meat balls.

In pre-Hispanic times, the recado negro was prepared with dried red chiles that were ground to form a paste that was then 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 hen of Castilla, 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 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.

The cooks at Kinich explain that the traditional technique for cooking the black stuffing is done underground so that the smoke flavor is well impregnated. A hole about 40 centimeters deep is dug, wood 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. Then it is covered with earth until the meat is cooked and ready.

To prepare recado negro, the country or paisita chiles, dried, are burned until they are completely black. Then they are ground with spices -among them pepper, cloves, and cumin-, roasted garlic and roasted onions until a paste is formed, which is then slid with water. You can also buy ready-made paste in any market and cook it all on the stove.

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