“La Hallaca” is the most popular dish serving on Christmas for Venezuelan people, which is usually served at the table together with pork leg, chicken salad, and ham bread, conforming the traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish.
With globalization and the constant migration of Venezuelans around the world, this product has become a universal food for these dates.
In fact, one of the most searched terms this Christmas was "Hallacas near me" because, for a Venezuelan, Christmas without Hallacas is not Christmas.
This is nothing more than a combination of different flavors, such as meat stew, olives, raisins, capers, and more, which combine a delicious mixture that is steamed within a delicious marinated corn dough and colored with onoto wrapped by some plantain leaves tied with a wick.
It is often confused or compared with the famous Mexican tamales due to their similar appearance, but the difference between the two is the taste of them.
It is not clear where the word "Hallaca" comes from. It is presumed that it comes from an indigenous language called “Guarani” and derives from the word “ayúa” ó “ayuar”, from these words it is induced that "ayuaca" designates a mixed thing, which due to linguistic deformation was renamed "ayaca".
It originates from the colonial era and there are several theories about its creation; It is said that slaves stole food from their masters' kitchen and hid it inside a corn bun since it was one of the few foods they were allowed to eat.
But the most common belief is that with the leftovers of the meals made by the settlers, this wonderful creation was made for the celebration of the festivities.
It is a meal that can be eaten throughout the year, but is usually only prepared in December for Christmas due to its laborious preparation.
For this reason, the whole family usually gets together to prepare them and it is very common for a party to be held around the elaboration of this exquisite dish, where carols are sung, bagpipes are danced, alcoholic beverages are consumed and conversations are shared without ceasing.
When the dish is ready, a few are usually served to share and taste its wonderful flavor and the rest are frozen to serve in the continuous December celebrations, Christmas Eve, New Years and even the first days of January or to be given as a present for the families that do not have the tradition to prepare them.
Hallacas are the traditional Venezuelan tamales. It’s no more than a thin layer of dough stuffed with beef, pork and chicken fillings made up of spices like cumin, pepper corns or even garlic! They can be topped off nicely at your request with bacon bits for that salty flavor you love so much in these delicious little pastries known as hallacitas which translates literally to "little hats."
The process is quite simple: take some plantain leaves (or any other type) wrap it around an assortment ingredients then tie them into knots before boiling until they're done- approximately 15 minutes usually does this job well enough but always make double sure by checking after 12/13 since seeing trussed.
This dish is traditionally served during the Christmas season, and it can vary depending on the region. Making hallacas has always intimidated me because my mom says making them takes hours of preparation time - I did not know how long she had been working on this tradition before finally teaching me all her secrets!
I'll admit that there are some steps in preparing these delicious little savory snacks for any occasion or event where you need something quick but still extraordinary tasty (think New Year's Eve).
We're talking deep-fryer style here so if anyone without one isn't sure what method will work best then just ask someone else who does have access to one since everyone
Cook each meat separately in boiling water, do not soften completely and reserve the broth.
Sauté the garlic and onion in hot oil, add the leek and chives and cook for about 5 minutes, add the paprika and sweet pepper, cook for a few more minutes and add the meats, add all the other ingredients, leaving the tomato and wine last.
Add chicken or beef broth to the stew, separate dissolve the paper in water and the corn flour and add to the stew, add oil with onoto and cook for 40 minutes or until thickened.
The dough is prepared by pouring the cornmeal into a container large enough to knead it, and adding lard, a part (1 cup) boiled with onoto, the butter is strained to discard the onoto, and another without coloring (3 cups), add the salt and bind everything well, add 3 cups of chicken broth little by little and knead it again until a smooth dough is obtained.
The leaves are removed the thick vein that brings to the shore and they are washed very well, dried with a cloth and arranged on the counter, place the dough and the stew so that they are within reach of your hands.
You are going to take a leaf of the largest and grease it with a little bit of butter, place a ball of dough in the center of the leaf and thin it with your fingers, creating a symmetrical circumference, then add the cold stew and over it arranges the ornaments harmoniously distributed.
Then fold across the wide part of the leaf, creating a fold until it is closed, fold the ends inwards and wrap it with the smaller leaf, then take the strip of leaf and secure the halter in the middle, tie it with wick crossing it two times in each direction.
When you have several finds ready, place it in a large pot with boiling water for an hour, remove and drain.