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Give Your Flan a Savory Makeover

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“It’s black. It’s ugly. But it’s yummy.”

Huitlacoche Flan

Huitlacoche Flan

That was Josefina Santacruz’s description of huitlacoche, a corn fungus or smut that’s highly prized for its earthy flavor. The chef, who divides her time between restaurants in New York and Mexico City, showcases its unique flavor in a savory flan that features heavy cream and a touch of epazote.

Santacruz served it at last week’s Latin Flavors, American Kitchens symposium at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus. It makes a great side dish, she said, or even as a main course with fish on top. The version served at the conference featured sautéed wild mushrooms on top.

You can find canned huitacoche in the Mexican section of a great many supermarkets, but you might want to ask at places like Las Americas on San Pedro Avenue if they have a frozen version, which has a slightly firmer texture.

Huitlacoche Flan

3 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
Leek and Huitlacoche Mixture (recipe follows)
Chopped epazote, to taste
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Melted butter, to grease molds8 (4-ounce) aluminum molds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Slightly beat eggs, just enough to break them down and get a homogenous mixture. Add cream, Leek and Huitlacoche Mixture, epazote, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until well incorporated. Pour into the buttered molds, about 1/4 cup each.

Place in the oven in a hot waterbath at 300 to 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until set, but not too firm.

Cool and reserve, if making early.

For service, place in the oven and reheat. Unmold directly on the serving plate.

Makes 4 servings.

From Josefina Santacruz/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

Leek and Huitlacoche Mixture

2 ounces (2 tablespoons) butter
1 1/2 small leeks, chopped
4 ounces huitlacoche
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, melt butter, add leeks and sweat until soft.

Add huitlacoche and mix in, season with salt and pepper. Cook until it becomes a nice even mixture and cooked.

Remove from heat and place on a sheet pan to cool down.

Note: If using raw huitlacoche, check the amount to ensure it produces 4 ounces cooked.

From Josefina Santacruz/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens


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