Mexican Huauzontle Croquettes / Tortitas de Huauzontle

Huauzontle (also spelled guauzontle and huazontle) is an herb native to Mexico. Its name is of Náhuatl origin (“huautzontli”), and it has a long history of use in Mexican cuisine. Its appearance is somewhat like what broccoli would look like if it were elongated, and its flavor is a bit like spinach. Not only does it have high nutritional value, but it’s also economical and versatile. In Mexico, huauzontle is especially popular at the end of the year (November/December) and also in the spring (March/April), as many people observe Lent and look for meatless dishes. Some huauzontle recipes have you leave the cooked huauzontle flower buds on the stems when coating them with the egg batter and frying, but they are much messier to eat because you have to pull the fried flower buds off the stems with your teeth. In this recipe, you completely pull off the flower buds from the stems and form croquettes, which may take more time, but it’s ultimately more aesthetic and easier to eat at the end!

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 5 Roma Tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 Serrano Chile Peppers, or to taste
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Chicken Bouillon Powder
  • Powdered Cumin, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Croquette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. Huauzontle (about 8 stems)
  • Water, for boiling
  • 1/8 to 1/4 lb. Oaxaca Cheese (Mozzarella or String Cheese can also be used)
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • Salt
  • 4 Eggs
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying

Sauce Directions:

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them along with the chile peppers on a foil-lined broiler pan.

Roast them under the broiler until they’re softened and their skins are slightly blackened, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Cut the onion in half. Finely chop one of the halves and set aside. Place the other half of the onion with the garlic and the roasted tomatoes and peppers in a blender. Purée until smooth. Heat the oil in a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the chopped onion, and sauté until tender.

Pour the sauce into the saucepan. Add the chicken bouillon powder, cumin, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes.

Turn off the burner, but keep the sauce warm while preparing the huauzontle croquettes.

Croquette Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and salt generously. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Rinse the huauzontle stems and flower buds in cold water. Add the huauzontle to the boiling water, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until the flower buds are tender.

Remove the huauzontle from the boiling water and drain, allowing it to cool for a minute or two.

Carefully remove the flower buds from the leaves and stems as much as possible.

Basically, you need to strip the flower buds off of the stems by holding the stem with one hand and pushing the flower buds off with the other.

Combine flour and salt to taste in a small bowl and set aside.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites with an electric hand-mixer until they form stiff peaks.

Carefully fold the egg yolks into the egg whites and set aside.

Shred the cheese and set aside.

Pour oil into a large skillet 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and set over medium-high heat. Press together enough flower buds in the palm of your hand to form a small patty.

Place a small mound of shredded cheese in the center of the huauzontle patty.

Close the flower buds over the cheese (adding more flower buds as necessary to completely cover the cheese), forming a small cheese-stuffed huauzontle patty or ball. Squeeze out any excess water.

Transfer to the salted flour and cover thoroughly, carefully removing any excess.

Coat with the egg batter and immediately transfer to the hot oil in the skillet.

Fry until golden brown. Carefully spoon some of the hot oil over the top of the huauzontle croquette to set the batter, then flip and fry until the other side is golden brown also.

Transfer croquette to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm. Repeat steps until you’ve used up all of the flower buds.

This makes about 6 to 8 medium-large croquettes.

Serve the hot huauzontle croquettes immediately, pouring the sauce over the top as desired. Serve with beans, rice, and warm corn tortillas.

Note: You’ll likely have some sauce left over from this dish, so use it to make red rice or as a salsa to garnish sopes or quesadillas.

Bon appétit!

Recipe posted by Lindsay

One Response to “Mexican Huauzontle Croquettes / Tortitas de Huauzontle”

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