Last winter while exploring the quaint little city of Victoria, BC, I stumbled into a hidden away Mexican restaurant called Hernande’z and discovered my new favorite dish – huaraches. Then a few months later, I found myself in Fort Greene, Brooklyn munching on one at the Brooklyn Flea and a week later I was in Williamsburg gorging myself on another at Smorgasburg. I was seriously hooked!
Huaraches are flattened patties of corn masa and get their name from the popular Mexican sandal. They are topped with beans, cheese, vegetables, sour cream, and salsa and they are beyond delicious. I tend to associate Mexican food with long summer evenings, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the taste of the tropics in the middle of winter, right? Right!
It looks like a big production, but turning masa flour into dough is quite simple – just add a little vegetable broth and salt and then shape into balls. The dough does tend to dry out quickly so it’s a good idea to cover everything with plastic wrap when you’re not working with it. My patties were a bit dry and cracked a bit around the edges, and while I’m sure a Mexican grandmother might give me dirty looks, taste-wise, I was happy with the results.
It’s best to figure out your topping situation before starting the dough. So if you’re making your own refried beans or even just opening up a can, make sure they’re warm and simmering over low heat. Get your brisket sticky and shredded or crumble up some chorizo or shred some chicken if you’re into adding meat. I hope you’ve got some homemade salsa ready – this recipe works incredibly well with canned tomatoes (really!!!). Grate your cheese, shred your lettuce, mix up your guacamole or chop up your avocado. I also love to quick pickle some sliced red onion in lime juice for a bit of zing! The toppings are the best part so use what you like and don’t skimp! And it’s so easy to make your huaraches 100% vegan – just choose your toppings wisely!
Then mix up the dough, flatten it out with your hands, and start pan-frying. Or you can cover the the patties tightly in plastic wrap and let them sit in the fridge for a bit. The only real tricky part to these is flipping the huaraches so they don’t crack. And if they do crack, well, that’s where the loads of toppings become handy as a disguise! Gather some friends because this is a meal that is fun to eat! Once you hand over the hot patties to the awaiting crowd, everyone can add all the toppings they like. Hello awesome party time!!
2 c masa flour
1 t sea salt
1 3/4 c slightly warm vegetable broth
shredded pork or beef or chicken (if desired)
guacamole or avocados
grated cheese (cheddar cheese or feta or cojita)
quick-pickled red onions
In a large bowl, combine the masa with the salt and pour in the vegetable broth. Stir until combined and then knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball. Pinch off the dough and flatten – does it crack? If so, add in a bit of water until there are no cracks.
Divide the dough into orange-sized balls and flatten into an oval shape about 1/4″ thick. Cover patties with plastic wrap separated with squares of parchment paper immediately if placing in the fridge.
Heat a small amount of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat and place one or two huaraches (or how many comfortably fit in a pan). Cook until masa is golden brown, about 3 minutes and then carefully flip and cook for another 3 minutes.
Spread hot huaraches with the warmed refried beans and whatever topping you so desire. Eat and repeat! Makes about 4-6 huaraches.