"Tlacoyos are small, flat patties about the size of your hand, made from corn masa that's been stuffed with mashed beans, requesón (a salty, spreadable cheese similar to ricotta) or fava beans, and cooked crisp on a comal. Once you leave Mexico City, tlacoyos take on other shapes and names. In some areas of Puebla, for instance, they're called tlayoyos.
For a long time, my tlacoyo dream was to find a mayora—an older, respected Mexican cook—who could teach me how to make them. In 2013, I finally was able to learn with Señora Rosa Peña Sotres, who graciously invited me into her home and spent a full Sunday teaching me patiently how to stuff and fold. "Ya aprendió!" (You've learned!), she declared, as I placed a small, misshapen tlacoyito on her charcoal-fired comal. Patting them out by hand isn't easy if you're a beginner, but you'll get it down with practice. It's fun to gather a group of friends and make them con calma (Spanish for "without hurry"), particularly if someone brings the ready-made masa. Don't skimp on the garnishes. If you can't find cactus, which Latino supermarkets generally stock, try shredded raw cabbage or carrots." — Excerpted from 'Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City's Streets, Markets & Fondas' by Lesley Telléz
Recipe: Tlacoyos de Frijol Y Requesón (Bean and Cheese Tlacoyos)
Tlacoyos: Serves 6-9 as an appetizer
1 teaspoon lard
1/4 small onion, the rest choppedfor garnish
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
16 ounces cooked beans (anykind will do), with at least1/2 cup broth reserved, or 1(15.5-ounce) can beans, liquiddrained and reserved
1 pound fresh tortilla masaor 11/2 cups masa harina
1 to 11/2 cups warm water
1 cup Homemade Requesón
1 (15-ounce) jar pickled cactus
strips, or 4 large cactuspaddles, dicedand blanched inboiling salted water for 3 to5 minutes, until just tender
chopped fresh cilantro
crumbled queso fresco
salsa of choice
Heat the lard in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion wedge andgarlic. Fry, turning occasionally, until blistered and deep golden brown.
Add the beans and mash roughly, using the bottom of a heatproof cup. You don'twant them too pasty and smooth. In Spanish, they call the desired texture martajada.Add a little bean broth if they look too dry. Cook until the flavors combine, adding morebroth as needed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a bowl nearby.
If you're using masa harina, place in a deep bowl and pour 1 cup of the warm wateron top. Knead together for about 5 minutes to form a thick, pliable dough. To checkwhether the dough is sufficiently moist, break off a small ball and flatten it. If the edgescrack, you need more water—up to 1/2 cup. (The masa should be moister than theaverage tortilla masa, as it will cook longer than a tortilla and shouldn't dry out.) Ifusing fresh tortilla masa, sprinkle with a few drops of water and knead firmly, addingthe water a teaspoon at a time until the masa is very soft and creamy, about 5 minutes.(For fresh masa you will only need perhaps 1/4 cup water total.) Grab a piece of masa andcover the rest with a damp dish cloth to keep it hydrated.
Roll the masa into a ball just larger than a golf ball, and using your palm, flatteninto a disk about 1/4 inch thick. (You can also place the ball on a tortilla press, but becareful not to press it too thin.) Fresh masa will be much easier to work with than masaharina, but if you're using the latter, keep working and patting, pressing firmly on themasa ball to form a circular shape.
Holding the disk in your palm, add 1 to 2 tablespoons beans or requesón to thecenter, spreading the filling into a longish rectangle, without hitting the top or bottomedges. The filling amount really depends on how big your disk is—if the filling spills outwhen you try to close the tlacoyo, you have too much.
Fold both sides of the tlacoyotoward the center to enclose the filling.Press the seams together, pinchingthem closed with your thumbs.Set aside on a baking sheet and repeatwith the remaining masa and filling.
Warm a comal or nonstick skilleton medium heat. Place the tlacoyo inthe pan, without oil, and let cook. Oncethe sides start to dry slightly, turn it over. If you don't start to seegolden brownfreckles, turn up the heat; if yousee burned spots, lower the heat. Keepturning at intervals until both sidesare freckled and crisp, and the edgeshave puffed a bit, 10 to 12 minutes in all.
Garnish with cactus, cilantro,cheese, salsa and onion. Serve warm.