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Guatemalan Recipes


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Tamarind Beverage 

Tamarind is used to make a most refreshing and thirst quenching beverage in Guatemala, Mexico and other areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. Using the pulp of the tamarind fruit, water and a sweetener of choice, what could be better? Tamarind can be found in its pods at some international markets, or in compressed cakes or in concentrate form. For this recipe, use either whole pods or the compressed cake version. As a non-alcoholic drink, you won't have to worry about getting a DUI after a few. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be charged with a DUI you could contact San Jose DUI Lawyer to assist you with your case.

Makes 1 or 2 quarts

1/2 pound tamarind pods or cake
1 - 2 quarts of water, as needed
sugar or sweetener, to taste

Peel pods if whole. Soak the fruit or compressed cake in at least 1 quart of water for about 2 hours to soften. With scrupulously clean hands, break apart the pulp, freeing it into the water. Strain the mixture and add more water if desired. Less water makes a more concentrated beverage. Add sugar or other sweetener as needed.


Tamarind Beverage
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Caldo Gallego 

This is a hearty soup from Galicia, made with some kind of ham, chorizo or other sausage, greens of some kind such as kale, collards, mustard or cabbage, as well as white beans and potatoes. Very easy to make, versatile and just plain good.

Serves about 8 to 10

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
12 to 16 ounces of smoked sausage in ¼-inch slices
10 cups water
2 large or 3 small ham hocks
1 bay leaf
½ pound white beans, washed and picked over
10 cups of kale, chopped, stems removed
3 pounds potatoes, peeled, in 1½ - 2-inch chunks


Caldo Gallego
Caldo Gallego
Heat the oil in a large soup pot and add onions. Stir occasionally at first, then constantly so as not to burn, until the onions are just browned. Add in the garlic and the sausage and toss to brown. Add in the water, ham hocks, bay leaf and beans. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover the pot and allow to cook for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the beans are tender. Add in the kale and potatoes and raise the heat  to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTES: This soup needs no salt if made with ham hocks or ham. If using only chorizo or other sausage, salt will be needed.


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Rellenitos de Platano 

(Mashed Plantain Filled with Black Beans)

These little Guatemalan treats are so delicious it is hard to stop eating them
. Cooked plantains are mashed with some sugar and cinnamon and thickened black beans are inserted. Black beans and plantains are a match made in heaven anyway, and this sweet dessert version is a perfect combination. Look for very ripe plantains, where there is significant blackening on the skin and softness to touch. Otherwise plan ahead, because they can take up to 2 to 3 weeks to ripen if very green.

Makes 10 - 12 Rellenitos

3 ripe plantains
1/3 - ½ cup sugar, if needed
1 teaspoon true cinnamon
½ - ¾ cup black beans that have been made Volteados
flour, for dusting
sugar for rolling
oil for frying

Peel plantains and cook in water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. If plantains are very ripe, they may not need any added sugar. If using, start with the lesser amount and see. If the plantain mixture is very soft, do not add more sugar. If it is still a dry mixture, add more. Add in the cinnamon and mix well. If plantain mixture is still hot, put in the refrigerator to cool. You should have about 3 cups.

Using either a can of black beans or some that you have already cooked, puree them and cook them down to a very dry consistency, until you have slightly less than a cup. If the beans were very runny, you might need to start with 2 cups of beans to achieve the small amount of dry paste needed.

Have oil heating in a frying pan or low pot. Using about ¼ cup at a time, take the plantain mixture in one hand and make a well in the center. With a spoon, scoop some beans, about 2 teaspoons, and place in the center of the plantains. Seal the plantain mixture over the beans so they are totally encased. Have a bowl with some flour handy and roll the finished relleno in the flour and set aside until all are formed. Repeat until the plantain mixture is gone. There should be from 10 to 12 rellenitos from this amount.

Once the oil is hot, fry about 4 to 6 rellenos at a time, without crowding. It will take about 6 to 8 minutes total frying time to achieve a nice golden brown color all over. Turn them as needed. Once browned, remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper toweling to drain. Roll in granulated sugar. Repeat with another four at a time until all are fried. May be served immediately or wait until cooled.


Rellenitos de Platano
Rellenitos de Platano: Mashed Plantains Filled with Black Bean Paste
Rellenitos Steps 1 to 3
Rellenitos Steps 4 to 6

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Quesadilla 
(Guatemalan Cheese Coffeecake)

This Quesadilla is a dessert, unlike what is generally known here in the US as a "quesadilla". It is made with a fresh, crumbly cheese (called "queso fresco") found commonly in Guatemala, but shredded Parmesan is a suitable substitute. Queso Fresco is crumbly and shreddable. Sometimes a cheese called by the same name is found in groceries, but has more of the texture of mozzarella and will not shred properly. Look for a cheese that is of a dry and not spongy texture.

Makes one 8 x 8-inch coffeecake

1 cup rice flour
2 cups shredded cheese (Queso Fresco, Cotija, Parmesan)
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a convection oven, set the oven for 325 degrees on Convect Bake.

In a mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, cheese and sugar, with the baking soda and toss to combine well.  This also coats and separates the cheese shreds.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs with the heavy cream. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened well.

Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan (glass works well) with cooking spray, or grease with butter or shortening.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

NOTES: This may sound strange, but  it turns out a really delicious and not overly sweet cake, lovely to serve with tea or coffee.


Guatemalan Quesadilla
Guatemalan Quesadilla, or Coffeecake
My Quesadilla Recipe
My scribbled recipe, in a corner of a notebook
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Frijoles Volteados 

(Black Beans, Flipped)

Black beans in Guatemala are served with most meals. Served with rice and corn tortillas, they make a complete protein meal. Frijoles volteados are strange looking to the uninitiated, but are the tastiest of all forms black beans may take.


Serves 8 to 10

1 pound black beans, picked over to remove any stones or dirt, rinsed well
1 onion, chopped
2½ - 3 teaspoons salt
2 - 4 tablespoons oil, lard or bacon fat for frying

Beans may be soaked overnight; this is a matter of preference. I do not.

Place washed beans in a large pot with water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Roughly chop the onion and add to the pot. Garlic may also be added if desired. If Apasote / Epazote is available, use the younger tips of the plant. Bring pot to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook beans for 2 to 3 hours, or until tender and falling apart. Add salt once cooked.

Put the beans through a food mill,  food processor or blender until smooth. Now you have pureed beans, or Frijoles Colados, above right. At this point you may proceed to the making of the Volteados, or you may first fry some onion and garlic until golden brown and add the liquified beans into the pan to meld flavors for a few minutes.

To make the Volteados, you may use all the beans just made, or only a part; it works the same. This can also be done with canned black beans, if desired. It is best to use a wooden spoon to cook and stir down the beans. Volteados depend on the liquid being quickly evaporated and the beans coming to a solid mass, able to be flipped from side to side in the pan and then onto a serving plate.

1. (9:10 AM) Heat a large (preferably nonstick) frying pan and put in some oil, lard or fat to heat. Place beans in pan; depending on how runny they are will determine the time it takes to cook them down - 15 to 30 minutes.
2. ( 9:15 AM) Over relatively high heat, stirring constantly so they do not burn (there is nothing worse then burnt beans!) cook and you will note that the pan begins to show through the scraping while cooking.
3. (9:19 AM) More and more the beans will clump together as liquid is evaporated out.
4. (9:21 AM) The beans start to pull together with the spatula.
5. (9:22 AM) The beans are now practically following the spatula around the pan as you stir.
6. (9:24 AM) The beans begin drying quickly now.
7. (9:26 AM) The beans have completely come together in one clump.
8. (9:27 AM)
Now begin to lift the pan on one side so the beans flip themselves over in one solid mass to the opposite side of the pan. This may have to be repeated once or twice to get them together properly.

Then, flip the beans out onto a serving plate. Serve with French bread or tortillas, or even tortilla chips, depending on the time of day and reason for serving.


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Frijoles Colados | Pureed Beans
Frijoles Colados (Pureed Black Beans ) above,
with a sprinkling of Cotija Cheese and Parsley
Frijoles Volteados
My Frijoles Volteados, flipped onto a serving platter at 9:27 AM.
Making Frijoles Volteados


Platanos en Mole 
Plantains in Mole Sauce 

If you love mole sauce, this is a sweet version and a wonderful dessert. I have made it repeatedly over the years and all my children love it, too. I have made this version with ingredients found in the US, such as unsweetened chocolate and vanilla wafers. Mexican chocolate tablets such as Abuelita brand are much more authentic, and the cookie used would normally be the cookie-like bread called Champurradas.

Serves 6 to 8

3 plantains, very ripe, blackened and soft
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, unhulled variety
1½ tablespoons raw green pumpkin seeds
3 tomatillos, husks removed
3 roma tomatoes
1 cup water
1 piece true cinnamon stick, about ½” worth
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar 
pinch salt
½ ounce unsweetened chocolate OR 1 whole tablet Mexican chocolate
1 large handful of simply flavored cookies, i.e. vanilla wafers, animal crackers, made into crumbs


Plantains in Mole Sauce    Making Mole
           Plantains in Mole Sauce             Making Mole: toasting seeds, charring tomatoes 
                                                                          and tomatillos, frying plantain slices

In a dry skillet, toast, moving constantly, the sesame seeds until most of the seeds have popped, but have not turned too brown. Dump the seeds into a blender container. Repeat this process with the pumpkin seeds and then with the crumbled cinnamon stick to release its fragrance and add to the blender. Place the tomatillos and roma tomatoes into the dry sklllet and roll them around until the exteriors are charred annd peeling. Add to the blender along with the cup of water. Blend until all the seeds and cinnamon are pulverized.

Pour this mixture into a medium saucepan and add in the sugar. Stir until the mixture begins to boil. Add the butter and salt, the chocolate and the cookie crumbs and cook until thickened and chocolate is melted.

Heat a skillet and add in some cooking oil. Peel the plantains and slice them about ¼-inch thick, on a bias. Fry the plantain slices until nicely browned and completely tender.  Add them to the mole sauce as they are cooked.  Once all plantain slices are done, mix well with the sauce and serve.  Sprinkle with more sesame seeds as garnish.

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Tamales Quetzaltecos 

In Guatemala, I helped my sisters-in-law make their mother's recipe for tamales.  It is an involved process that can take a whole day to make, if you are alone.  I have managed it in half a day with the help of my three daughters. It requires a lot of preparation, so I don't expect the average person to look at this and say, "I want to try this out!"  Still, the holidays are coming up, so if there are any homesick Guatemalans around, here is the most wonderful recipe for tamales, ever! Unfortunately, I have no photos, and hadn't planned to make them this year.  But maybe...

Makes 60 to 80

INGREDIENTS:
1 turkey, cut up into 2 - 3-inch chunks, bone and all (at least 12 lbs)
2 pounds white rice (3 pounds for larger amount)
1 pound white hominy (2 pounds for larger amount)
12 ounces shortening or lard (less if stock is fatty)
1 large pinch saffron
4 ounces unhulled sesame seeds
4 ounces pumpkin seeds
12 tomatillos
12 roma tomatoes
4 red bell peppers




INGREDIENTS, continued

1 dried hot red chile (optional)
2 dried pasilla or ancho chiles
3 inches of stick cinnamon (true cinnamon)
4 whole cloves
4 slices day-old French bread
4 tablespoons shortening or lard

FOR SAVORY TAMALES:
salt, to taste
½ cup annato seeds (or more, as needed) 

FOR SWEET TAMALES:
sugar, to taste
"Mexican style" chocolate, to taste

TO ADORN:
  • bottled whole pimientos, cut into long thin strips
  • capers
  • olives, with pits
  • almonds, blanched, peeled, sliced
  • raisins
  • prunes


Tamale Recipe ingredients
Tamale Recipe Ingredients:
The first page of the (much-used) recipe,
as I copied it down over 30 years ago

DIRECTIONS:
1. Two days in advance, wash the rice, rinse and drain. Set it to dry on large flat cookie sheets with rims.
2. The day before, cut up the turkey (or chicken or pork or duck) into pieces of a size for the tamal, put them in a very large pot and boil with the saffron, some salt (do not oversalt at this time), and an onion. Bring to a boil and cook till meat is done. Remove from heat and set to cool. If the pot is too large for the fridge, outside is fine (in winters up north!) as long as it is cold out and the pot has a strong lid!
3. The morning of Tamal Day, remove the meat pieces to a bowl and strain the stock into another large pot. Bring the stock to a boil.
4. The rice should be thoroughly dry. If not, set in a very low oven with the door ajar and turn often, till dry. Grind the rice in a grain mill till fine, but still with granules. It should not be flour! More like the consistency of Cream of Rice cereal. Do not try to substitute Cream of Rice Cereal - I tried it and it comes out FAR too runny!
5. Grind or blend the hominy till very fine with a bit of water. Mix in more water till you have about a quart of liquid or so. Set aside.
6. Once the stock is boiling, and stirring constantly, pour in the rice in a fine stream, till all incorporated. If the stock was not too fatty, or you are using water instead of stock, add the 12 oz. of shortening or lard, otherwise cut this quantity in half.
7. As the rice begins to cook, add, a little at a time, the liquidized hominy, stirring continually. Be careful that the heat is not too high so the masa does not burn. (Be very careful to wear oven mitts to stir, as the masa, once boiling, can burn badly!) Once the masa begins to boil, allow it to boil for about 15 minutes, stirring all the while. This takes about one hour, total. Remove from heat.

Sweet | Savory Tamales and Chuchito
Top: Sweet Tamal; Below left: Savory Tamal; Right: Chuchito
Photo courtesy of Rudy Giron:
www.AntiguaDailyPhoto.com

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8. Continue to stir the masa, off the heat, until it is cool enough to insert a finger for about a half-minute without getting burnt. (Here is where someone to help comes in handy.) This maintains softness and pliability of the masa; otherwise it would cool to one large lump!
9. Once cooled, separate into two containers; one for savory and one for sweet. Add salt to the savory masa and sugar to the sweet. If the masa has thickened too much, add some water to thin it and stir well.

FOR THE SAUCE(S) (Recado)
1.  In a dry skillet, over medium high heat, toast separately - the sesame seeds, the pumpkin seeds, the cinnamon and cloves.  Be especially careful of the sesame and pumpkin seeds – they will continue to cook once off the heat and can burn!  Once burnt, you will need to start over with fresh seeds, the burnt flavor is that bad.
2.  In a good-sized saucepan, put the tomatoes, tomatillos, red bell peppers (seeds and stems cut out), the “Pasilla” or “Ancho” dried chiles (whole – remove seeds and stems after cooking), and the hot dried chile, if desired, and nearly cover with water.  Set to cook until all are cooked through.  Take the Ancho or Pasilla Chiles and remove stems and seeds.  Saving the cooking water, remove all the vegetables to a blender or a food mill (Food mill will remove skin and seeds, resulting in a smoother sauce). 
3.  Grind the seeds and spices finely in a food grinder, or put them into the blender with a little of the pureed vegetables as a liquid base and blend till fine.  Add the spices to the pureed vegetables.  Add a little ground black pepper, to taste.
4.  Put the 4 pieces of French bread into the cooking water until they have softened, then blend them to a fine paste also; add to the sauce.  Stir the sauce over medium heat till it thickens slightly and add the 2 oz. of shortening or lard.  Once incorporated, take off heat and divide into two pots – one for the savory tamales and one for the sweet.
5.  In the pot for the savory sauce, use annato seeds to color and flavor, till you get a nice orange color.  (In a small saucepan, heat a very small amount of water with a handful of annato seeds, till it begins to give off color.  Then rub through a sieve or a food mill to extract as much color as possible.)  Add a bit of salt, to taste.
6. In the pot for the sweet sauce, add Mexican Chocolate, grated (this contains sugar already, so there is no need to add sugar).  If no Mexican chocolate is available, use (½ square at a time) Baker's unsweetened chocolate to reach the desired color, then add sugar to taste.  The sweetness should be distinguishable, but not terribly sweet.  Too much sugar will also thin the sauce.

PREPARE LEAVES:
1. If using banana leaves fresh – wash well, then pass them through boiling water to soften.
2. If using frozen banana leaves, thaw, and wash.
3. If no leaves are available, use squares of parchment.
4. With leaves, you will need a larger outer “wrapper” plus an inner “serving” leaf per tamal.
5. With parchment, just the one sheet is all that is needed. 
6. If there are only a few leaves available, use them for the inner serving leaf and parchment for the outer wrapper.

TO ASSEMBLE:
1. Set out bowls of each of the items you will need: the container of meat pieces, olives, capers, almonds, raisins, prunes, and pimiento in slices.
2. Set out the wrappers and the masa and the sauce. 
3. Take an outer wrapper leaf, about 14 - 16 “ square (or parchment) and set it centered on your left palm, with the point of the leaf or paper pointing upwards – the direction of your fingers.  If using leaves, place a smaller “Serving” leaf, about 11 - 12”square, the same way, centered on the first.
4. Using a large serving spoon or ladle, place a dollop of the masa on the center of the leaf – your palm should be holding the weight of the masa.
5. In the center of the masa, place one chunk of meat.
6. Top with a spoonful of the sauce over the top.
7. Add one each of the olives, capers, raisins, prunes - around the edges of the masa.  Then top with one longish strip of pimiento down the center, on top of everything else.
8. Bring the top point down over the tamal, then fold in one of the sides, followed by the other and then bring up the bottom point to form a neat packet.  Turn over the tamal, so that last fold is at the bottom with the point upwards.
9. In a large pot, put a round wire rack in the bottom.  Take the tamal and place it with that fold down.  As you add another, place it the same way, but making sure that the last point it upwards, so there will be no spillage.  Layer them one against the next around the pot, leaving a hole in the center for steam to come upwards and reach all the tamales.  Continue to layer till the pot is full, and top with a few leaves or pieces of l parchment, tucking them into the edges, again to maintain steam inside as they cook. 
10. Add approximately 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan and set on the stove to cook.  Once boiling, reduce heat enough to maintain a good simmer and steam for 1 hour.
11. Remove from pot and cool!  Refrigerate or freeze.

REHEATING:
1. If refrigerated, steam tamales in a fry pan with a rack inside for approximately 20 minutes with a lid on.
2. If frozen, repeat the above but allow AT LEAST ½ hour of steaming.  Skimping on the time with frozen tamales will heat the tamal through, but the masa will come out “mealy”.  Do not skimp on the time!


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Horchata 

This is a very refreshing drink made from rice. The rice is simply soaked, not cooked, and with the addition of a few other ingredients, it is great on a hot day.  Also lovely for a party, if alcohol is not a choice for some.  I served it at a baby shower!

Makes about 4½ cups

4½ tablespoons uncooked rice
3 tablespoons raw almonds
3 inches "true" cinnamon (look in Mexican 
   markets, or Mexican section of the grocery)
3 tablespoons cantaloupe seeds (dry and save)
4 tablespoons sesame seeds (raw, unhulled)
6 cups water (or ½ water, ½ milk)
¼ - ½ cup sugar, as desired

Directions: Soak the rice for at least 4 hours. Rice remains uncooked. Wash it well and put into a blender container along with the almonds, cinnamon, melon seeds, sesame seeds, sugar, and about ½ of the liquid called for. Blend till everything is very finely ground. Add the remaining liquid and chill before serving. Serve over ice, if desired.

NOTES:  This recipe calls for melon seeds.  I have never seen a recipe call for melon seeds before, but they are easy enough to harvest from a nice cantaloupe, when cutting and slicing.  Rinse the seeds well, pulling out any bits of melon that cling.  Allow them to dry out completely before storing in an airtight jar.


Horchata
Horchata

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Carne Fria 

(Guatemalan Meatloaf)

This meatloaf is different in that it is wrapped in cheesecloth and boiled instead of baked; a good way to avoid excess fat.  Also a very tasty combination of ingredients, with a surprise center and making a very attractive party food. 

1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Pound Ground Pork
3 Strips Bacon, fried (leave fat in pan) & crumbled
1 Onion, chopped fine
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Bay Leaves, finely ground
1 Sprig Thyme (1 tsp fresh leaves or ¼ tsp dry)
1/8  Teaspoon Cloves
2  Teaspoons Salt
¼ Teaspoon Pepper
2 Shots Cognac or Brandy
2 Carrots, finely shredded
2 Tablespoons pickle relish 
1 Slice Bread, soaked in milk and squeezed dry
6 Hard-boiled Eggs, peeled
½ Gallon Water, + 2 Tbsp salt for cooking
-  Cheesecloth & Kitchen Twine

Carne Fria
Carne Fria

Place both meats in a large mixing bowl.  Fry the bacon in a large skillet till done, and remove to paper towels to drain.  Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the bacon fat in the pan and saute until golden.  Add to the meats, along with the bacon.  Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the hard boiled eggs, and mix well; set aside.  (This part can be done a day ahead of time.  Store the mixed meat in a container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator.)

On a large flat surface, place a large piece of cheesecloth, folded double.  On a cutting board or other surface, place the meat and create a sort of cradle.  Take the hard-boiled eggs and cut the ends off to expose the yolk at either end, then set the eggs end-to-end down the center of the cradle in the meat.  Begin forming the meat up and around, enclosing the eggs completely, until you have a nice cylinder formed from the meat.  Place the cylinder onto one edge of the cheesecloth and roll it, making a nice tight enclosure.  Taking kitchen twine, lay out strips, sliding them underneath the roll, using about 3 for the body of the roll, and one at each end.  Tie them snugly; trim ends. 

Have a large pot or Dutch oven ready with boiling water with about 2 tablespons salt.  Gently lower the meat roll into the water and reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 1 hour.  Pour off water, cut twine, and unroll the packet.  Slice in about ½-inch slices.  Makes about 10 slices, plus the ends.  Serve with a Tomato Sauce.

Carne Fria process 1

1. Take prepared meat and make a “cradle.” 

2. Place the trimmed eggs end-to-end down the center of the cradle. 

3. Form the meat up to completely surround the eggs, making a neat cylinder.

4. Lay out cheesecloth or old kitchen towel or flour sacking, and onto this, place the cylinder.

5. Roll up the towel around the meat tightly, to keep its shape.

6. Cut kitchen twine long enough to tie.  Three pieces around the center part of the cylinder, and one at each end work well.

7. Snip the ends of twine, leaving only a small end.

8. Into the boiling pot of water, add 2 tablespoons salt.

9. Gently lower the wrapped meat into the pot of water, sufficient to cover the entire cylinder.

10. Lower the heat until it maintains a simmer; cover and set a timer for 1 hour.

Carne Fria process 2
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