Steamy corn parcels filled with chicken, tomato and spice – these tasty little Guatemalan chuchitos can easily be made at home.
  1. Heat a skillet (large enough to hold the tomatoes, onion and pepper in a single layer) over medium-high. Add the olive oil and swirl around, then lay the vegetables in the skillet in a single layer. If you’re using tinned tomatillos (as I did), don’t put those in yet as they’re already soft and will dissolve in no time.
  2. Sauté the vegetables on all sides, caramelising the outside for around 10-15 minutes. Add the tinned tomatillos 5 minutes before the rest of the vegetables are done.
  3. As the vegetables are cooking, get another small pan on medium heat. Toss in the pepitas, sesame and torn ancho chilli – stirring around to lightly toast it all. No need to add oil here. Turn off the heat when it’s done, cool and then pound into a powder. Alternatively use a spice grinder.
  4. Purée the roasted vegetables until smooth. Add the ground seeds and spices, chilli powder and check for seasoning.
  1. Mix the masa marina and salt together in a large bowl. Gradually add the water, mixing with your hand. When it comes together, mix the softened butter through with your hand. It will feel like it’s too wet at first, but the masa is so absorbent that it will thicken slightly after you’ve mixed. Set aside.
To assemble
  1. Drain the soaking corn husks really well, drying if needed.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, scoop over about 1 cup of the sauce and mix to coat evenly. Set aside.
  3. Take about 80 grams of the dough and form it into a ball. I used this amount as my corn husks were on the small side. Slap it from hand to hand, when it’ll flatten naturally during the process. See video link in notes.
  4. Scoop a piece of the chicken and a little of the sauce into the centre of the disc. Bring the sides of the dough in and seal to encase it all, forming a cocoon. Lay this into the centre of the corn husk, then bring the sides of the husk over to wrap the filled dough.
  5. Once you’ve done the first stage of the wrap, fold up the bottom (flat side) of the husk. Rest the parcel on the bench, folded side down. Using thin strips of corn husk, tie a strip around the folded portion to hold it in place.
  6. Take the parcel and gently squeeze down from the top (pointy side). Feel where the filling is, then tie another strip of husk at this point.
  7. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and chicken.
  8. It all sounds complicated, but it really isn’t!
  9. Lay all the parcels in a large steamer. I used one of those bamboo things from Chinatown. Pour a litre-or-so of water into a pot, lay the steamer over it and steam the parcels for 40 minutes.
  10. To serve, arrange the parcels on a platter with a small bowl of the sauce on the side. Serve hot or at room temperature, grated with a little cheese, if you like.
Recipe Notes

Traditionally the sauce is passed through a sieve, resulting in a thin soup-like consistency. I chose not to do this as I prefer the slightly coarser consistency. There’s so much flavour in the pulp, so why throw it out!

Watch this video to get the idea of how to shape the masa dough for filling.

Because my husks were on the small side, I had to use two husk per parcel, wrapping the second around the first.