Humitas are the South American version of the Mexican tamales and are eaten throughout the continent. They are traditionally prepared with fresh young corn, wrapped in fresh corn husks, and steamed over the cobs. If fresh corn is not in season, substitute frozen (thawed) or canned corn (well drained) and steam in dried husks that have been presoaked (about 10 minutes in warm water). This recipe makes 25 to 30 humitas.
6 to 8 ears fresh corn, preferably green (reserve the husks)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter or oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 to 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1. Cut around base of each ear of corn and gently remove husks whole. Reserve husks. Brush silk off ears.
2. Grate kernels off corncobs into medium bowl and reserve the cobs. Blend the kernels, milk, and sugar to make a lumpy paste.
3. In a large skillet, heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato, basil, and salt, and cook for another minute. Add corn paste, reduce heat to medium-low, and stir until the mixture has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Overlap two fresh corn husks side by side lengthwise and place a third on top to make a cross. Drop 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the center and fold all sides to wrap the filling. Tie it together with string. Break the cobs in half if necessary and set them into a large Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover them halfway.
5. Put the humitas on the cobs. Cover and steam for 45 minutes, adding water as needed.