Corundas: A different kind of tamal

Growing up in suburban West Chicago, my father had a huge backyard garden. He proudly grew a variety of hot peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and anything else that would sprout. My favorite was corn, which we would patiently have to wait for until late summer.

While we waited for harvest time, my mother would take advantage of the fresh green corn leaves to make tamales amarillos, or yellow tamales. That is what they are called in Jalisco, Mexico, which is where my parents were born. I always found it ironic since the leaves are bright green. I would later find out that other Mexican states like Michoacán call them Corundas.

My mother would make a semi-sweet version of Corundas de Elote, or she would make a more savory kind that were filled with refried beans. Both are equally delicious, depending on your mood. Either way, they are best accompanied by fresh sour cream and or salsa.

Recently, I went to visit my parents' hometown of Tamazula, Jalisco. My mother's sister, Josefina Contreras Del Toro still lives there. My Tía Pina, as I affectionately call her, is a bit of a local celebrity in Tamazula. She used to give cooking lessons in town and has even published two recipe books.

While at her home, I helped her and her husband, Raymundo Del Toro make refried bean-filled corundas. They happened to have black nixtamal on hand, and had it ground into masa.

She then mixed manteca or lard into the masa. Yes, that's lard but it's what makes them delicious. Tía Pina also likes to add a little tequesquite which is a kind of mineral salt. She says it's a secret she learned in order to make the masa extra spongy.

Once the masa is ready to go she takes a clean moist towel and spreads masa over it. Tía Pina then spreads a layer of the beans over the masa. Eventually she uses a jelly-roll technique with the towel to make it easier to slice.

Tía Pina then takes the slices and molds them into a fist-size balls. You then wrap them in corn leaves, steam them in pot as you would regular tamales and you have Corundas.

¡Buen Provecho!
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