masa with eggs


The original idea was a flavorful masa cake base that is half cheese topped with a poached egg that would break over the cake and become the sauce for the dryer masa. I realized I do not care that much for masa in thick cake form. I thought of ways to lighten it considerably to something closer to a foam masa cake. Then I thought of using less cheese and mixing the egg directly into loose masa. The masa mixture would be very very loose, much more loose than for a corn tortilla, even more loose than for tamale filling. I'd say about as loose as crêpe batter. 

For two of those ↑ large quenelle things:

*  1/2 cup water. Other times I would consider chicken broth but tonight I am thinking about the water being the thing that conveys the rich clean flavor of the nixtamal maíz masa.  Water seemed a clearer conveyance than broth although less robust.

* 3 level tablespoons masa harina. 
*  two eggs
*  salt and pepper
*  cumin powder
*  coriander seeds powder 
*  cayenne red chile powder
*  another chile powder of your choice
*  chile flakes of your choice
*  fresh or tinned jalapeños.
*  1/2 small onion diced. These diced onions were zapped for 45 seconds in the microwave to knock the edge off the sulphenic acids and to cause them to shrink. I do not want onions to shrink from the thing that I am making resulting in air gaps next to all the onion bits. I want a light airy mixture, yes, but not like that. 
*  smashed garlic clove 

It's Hatch chile roasting time around here right now. I really must go out and buy a sack. Enterprising vendors, not necessarily campesinos, bring freshly harvested New Mexico chiles of varying intensities to surrounding areas. They set up large roasters, sometimes giant, that resemble a ping-pong ball cage used for bingo. There is a gas flame underneath. The cage is partially filled with chiles of like intensity and turned continuously over the flames until the chiles are singed black. The chiles are done when they are suitably black, 100% black. It's up to the customer to pick off the remaining black flakes before the chiles are frozen, if they last that long. This pictured above uses tinned serrano chiles, which are close to jalapeños but a little longer, thinner, and hotter. 

This masa harina is fun to cook. It looks so wet at first. If I were not familiar with it then I would be convinced there is no way it will solidify. Shouldn't worry. Even if it doesn't solidify, which it will, but even if it doesn't then the egg will take over and thicken the liquid so there is a broad range for error and for personal preference.  On low heat, the liquid mixture cooks first on the bottom just as an omelet. The nearly cooked material is pushed out of the way and liquid material replaced in the spot that was vacated. Repeat this pushing away of the material for a minute until you see the masa start to toast, the cheese melt, and the egg thicken to solid. The masa pulls away from the pan beautifully and mysteriously, yet adheres to itself without forming layers. It simply dries and stiffens noticeably while being pushed around. The cook can shape the nearly cooked masa and egg into a quenelle by tilting the pan and moving the material into the the edge, then rolling the quenelle in the edge of the pan using a large serving spoon. Remarkably, the pan is nearly completely cleared all material having been picked up by the cooked masa. The masa/egg quenelle is tipped onto a serving plate. 

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