Bienvenidos a Los Dos: Recipes

About Chef David Sterling

  Gorditas de Chaya Download PDF



GORDITA IS SPANISH FOR "LITTLE FATTY" or "little fat girl". Gorditas can be filled with anything – sausage, picadillo or chicharra – but these chaya-filled cakes are perfect for Lenten fasting, especially if you trade the lard for vegetable shortening. Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is considered the "miracle food" of the Maya. The edible parts of this green, leafy plant, which taste something like spinach when cooked, are exceptionally high in protein, Vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and carotene, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and phosphorus. In fact, its nutritional content is two to threefold greater than most edible leafy green vegetables such as spinach or chard. As a traditional remedy, chaya has been recommended for a number of ailments including diabetes, obesity, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, acne and eye problems. So no need to feel guilty when you eat these fat little cakes – just close your eyes and pretend it's a sin!

10 servings
• 3 Tbs. (45 ml) olive oil
• 1 large red onion
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 
• 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
• 8 cups chaya leaves, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped (Substitute: spinach, Swiss chard, kale)
• Salt and pepper, to taste

STEP 1  IN A LARGE SKILLET, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add chaya and cover. Cook 20-25 minutes or until chaya is tender, stirring occasionally. Check seasonings.

• 3/4 cup (175ml) solid lard (Refrigerate it first if it is liquid. Substitute: vegetable shortening)
• 2 lbs. (1 k)  masa
• 13/4 oz. (50 g) flour
• 1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder
• 1 Tbs. (15 ml) powdered chicken bouillon, mixed with 2 Tbs.(30 ml) hot water (Optional)
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 chile habanero, finely chopped
• 2 tsp. (10ml) salt or to taste

STEP 2  PLACE LARD OR SHORTENING in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at high speed for 5 minutes until aerated and lightened. Add remaining ingredients and beat at high speed another 5 minutes until thoroughly incorporated. Check seasonings.

STEP 3  PREHEAT A DRY GRIDDLE, comal or cast iron skillet over highest heat for 10 minutes. (Alternatively you may fry the gorditas in vegetable oil.) Meanwhile, shape masa into 3.5-oz (100g) balls. Pat one ball into a thick tortilla, about 4" (10cm) in diameter and 3/8" (5mm) thick in the palm of your hand. Top the tortilla with 1 heaping tablespoon (15 ml) of the chaya mixture. Fold in half, sealing edges, then reshape into a thick round about the size you started with. Set aside and continue with remaining balls.

STEP 4  FRY GORDITAS either on the comal or in hot oil. If you will serve them later, keep warm in a 150˚F (65˚C) oven. Guests may eat gorditas with their fingers, or from plates with forks and the salsa of their choice.

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