CCS’s Alcris Limongi grew up in Venezuela. For Christmas this year she is visiting her brother in Curaçao. Alcris took time to send us this recipe.
Hallacas are the traditional Christmas meal in Venezuela. After 9 years away, my brother (Alfredo) and his wife (Veronica) decided to make hallacas to mark the occasion of my visit. The dish is usually prepared days before Christmas. It is not a one-person job. The whole family gathers around a big table in the kitchen or outside on the patio. Everyone in the family has a job to do. Venezuelan Christmas music is played (aguinaldos and gaitas Venezolanos). Also, we make homemade eggnog with condensed milk, eggs, rum, and spices that we call “Ponche Crema.”
A Hallaca is a tamal-like dish made from a corn meal, “Harina Pan” dough (water, salt, and Harina Pan). We make a ball and place it on a banana leaf, oiled with a hot mix of oil and annatto (orange-red dye, Onoto in Spanish). We crush it and place on top a generous scoop of beef/chicken/pork/bacon stew chopped in small pieces (guiso). This is slow-cooked with sweet red wine, raisins, olives, onions, capers, garlic, almonds, red peppers, and some seasonings. Then we add the same raw ingredients on top. After being wrapped in banana leaves, they are cooked in boiling water for approx. an hour. Now they are ready. Just unwrap and eat. The rest of hallacas are stored in the freezer to eat any time during December… Buen provecho! Feliz Navidad!