A Hearty Main Dish, Perfect for Vegetarians

This Friendsgiving, we're cooking up two of the three sisters. Before you raise an eyebrow, let us explain: the three sisters, also known as the milpa system in Mexico, refers to corn, squash, and beans — crops that form the bedrock of the Mesoamerican diet and support one another in planting to develop an effective ecosystem and promote soil health.

For the corn component, we’re making chochoyotes, little masa dumplings made with Masienda Heirloom Yellow Corn Masa Harina. These dumplings are also known as ombligitos (“little belly buttons”) in their origin state of Veracruz, Mexico. Often boiled and even sometimes fried, they are usually added to soups, stews, and pots of beans. The chochoyotes are cooked in a flavorful, brothy pot of Heirloom Chatino Black Beans which have been prepared with aromatics (onion, garlic, and avocado leaves for their herbal, anise-y flavor) sauteed in olive oil or lard. A little more olive oil to finish, and this hearty dish is a vegetarian main greater than the sum of its parts.

NB: Traditional chochoyotes fold a bit of fat and salt into the masa, but this is totally up to you. If using fat like olive oil or manteca (lard), we recommend beginning with 10 percent fat weight of total masa weight (1:10 ratio). If you plan to shape and then immediately freeze them, a bit of fat mixed into the masa will help preserve the integrity of the chochoyotes through the eventual thaw. We enjoy them both with and without the additional fat, and season them instead within the cooking liquid.

Chochoyotes recipe adapted and reprinted from MASA by Jorge Gaviria with permission from Chronicle Books, 2022. Photographs © Graydon Herriott.

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