Handling Humitas

We were all thumbs when we started assembling those Chilean tamales called Humitas--but practice makes perfect, and now our packaging is as beautiful as our filling is delicious.

1. Cook the corn filling over medium-high heat until all the liquid has been absorbed into the mixture. The consistency should be fairly dry.

2. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of one of the reserved fresh corn husks. The inner leaves will be quite tender and easier to work with. If the husks are not wide enough, combine two, making sure that they overlap enough to form a tight package.

3. Fold the bottom edge up over the filling and then the top over the bottom, the way you'd fold a letter, then fold the sides into a squarish packet.

4. Use other husks torn lengthwise into long, thin strips (knot two strips together to make longer ties) to firmly secure the humitas packets.

5. Use the corn cobs reserved from the filling recipe to line the bottom of the pot that you will use to steam the humitas. Add enough water to the pot to cover the cobs.

6. Place a layer of corn husks on top of the corn cobs and line the sides of the pan with more husks. Next add the humitas, then cover them with the remaining husks. Steam over medium heat for 1 1⁄2-2 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep humitas covered.

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