Wednesdays Wonders: Hallacas the Tamales of the Llano

Hallacas are the Tamales of the Llano. It is served during important holidays throughout the region. These are popular in Venezuela also, but every recipe that I have read has been very different from this one and from each other. If you do not like this version, just google another :)

2 pounds of chicken
2 pounds of beef (preferably a pot roast)
2 pounds of pork5 eggs (boiled and sliced)
1 1/4 pounds of arepa flour

The following are all finely chopped and some are doubled -- once for the marinade, and once again for the Sauce (Guiso). Some recipes include tomato, others do not. The woman that gave me this recipe did not use tomato.

1/2 head of garlic x 2
2 pounds of onion x 2
1/2 teaspoon oregano x 2
1/2 Tablespoon cumin x 2
1/2 teaspoon annatto (achiote) x 2
1/3 cup chopped cilantro x 2
Salt to taste
1/2 pound green peppers

BANANA LEAVES -- these can be found frozen in many Latino Grocery stores.

Makes 20 Tamales


1. Marinate the meat in all of the condiments over night.
2. Place the meat and marinade in a large pot and add enough water to cover and cook until the meats are soft. (Another option is to place the meats in a crock pot with water and put them to cook for 8-10 hours). You may need to take the chicken out early as it will get soft sooner than the other meats.
3. Once the meats are soft cut them into small pieces and set aside. DO NOT THROW AWAY WATER.
4. Separately, make a sauce of the onion, garlic, cilantro, peppers, sal, achiote, and oregano.
5. Place the water from the cooked meat into a large pot and bring to a low boil, gradually add the arepa harina stirring constantly so that you don't get lumps. Turn off the heat as the dough begins to thicken.
6. Once dough has cooled a little, smooth about 3/4 cup onto the center of the banana leaf.
7. On top of the dough place a healthy dose of meats and 2 slices of egg.
8. Fold the banana leaf around the dough and tie with string.
9. Steam in a large pot for 2 hours.
10. Serve.


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