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Venezuelan Christmas Hallacas Also Served in Colombia

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“Hallacas [ay-YAH-kahs] are served as both an appetizer and main dish. Hallacas, more than any other food, symbolize Christmas for Venezuelans. Delicious meaty morsals are surrounded by a tender dough, then steamed to perfection in colorful banana leaves. If you are fortunate to have access to these large, beautiful banana leaves, plan on using them for truly authentic results.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. FOR THE MEAT FILLING: Put beef, pork, and bacon in a large pan. Puree the tomatoes with the peeled onion and garlic. Add mixture to the meat pan along with the salt, marjoram, and leek. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking until all meat is tender, about 2 hours.
  2. When meat is tender, add to the meat mixture the capers, mustard pickles, vinegar, bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Raise the heat to high and cook the filling, stirring, until almost all liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the raisins and set filling aside.
  4. FOR THE MASA DOUGH: Over a low heat, melt 1/3 cup lard with the annatto seeds. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Whip remaining lard until fluffy. Beat in masa harina, salt, cayenne peper, and water. Finally, beat in melted, strained lard, discarding annatto seeds. Form dough into 24 balls.
  6. FOR THE FINAL PREPARATIONS: Put a ball of Masa Dough in the center of each corn husk. Flatten dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Top each masa-coated husk with an equal distribution of the meat mixture, chicken, hard cooked eggs, almonds, pimentos, and olives. Sprinkle on Tabasco sauce to taste.
  7. Fold corn husks to completely encase the filling. Tie each hallaca with thin strips of corn husk or kitchen string. When tightly assembled, steam halacas for 1 hour. Serve piping hot.
  8. NOTE: Hallacas are easily refrigerated or frozen. Reheat by steaming again until hot. Makes 24 Hallacas.
  9. source--Macuto-Sheraton Hotel, Caracas, Venezuela.

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