Motepata, Andean Hominy and Pumpkin Seed Soup from Gran Cocina Latina

Before I have the chance and pleasure to meet Maricel Presilla to talk about her all around take on Latin American cuisine, Gran Cocina Latina (WW Norton, October 2012) here's a recipe excerpted from book.

Andean Hominy and Pumpkin Seed Soup 


During most of the year, Cuenca is a quiet Andean town, the temple of Ecuadorian belles lettres, a bastion of civility. But during the three days of carnival before Shrove Tuesday, it turns into a madhouse, where revelers are given carte blanche to soak anyone who crosses their path. Bakers come out of their shops armed with big kneading tubs full of water. Little ladies who otherwise would not dare to offend anyone reach out from their balconies and gleefully hurl buckets of water onto any passersby.

Those who prefer to stay dry plan ahead and stock up to avoid last-minute trips to the market. They stay at home, eating home-baked bread and motepata, a succulent soup of mote (hominy) thickened with pumpkin seeds that is never missing during carnival. In Spanish, the name sounds as if cow’s hooves, patas, were involved, but this is just a coincidence. The word is actually derived from the Quechua word for a kindred dish called motepatashca,

in which mote is cooked down almost to a mush. Motepata is creamy because of the addition of milk and ground pumpkin seeds.

Cook’s Note: Normally the mote for Andean hominy is soaked overnight before cooking. But if you don’t have time to do this, you can streamline the process in a pressure cooker. Place 1 pound Andean corn for mote and 2½ quarts water in the pressure cooker, lock the lid, and heat over high heat. When the valve begins to whistle, lower the heat to medium and cook for 1½ hours. Drain.

Serves 6 to 8

For the Hominy 

Andean Hominy (page 251; see Cook’s Note above for streamlined pressure-cooker method)

For the Meat

1 pound pork shoulder or boneless butt, cut into 2-inch pieces, or meaty boneless pork chops

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

For the Cooking Sauce

3 tablespoons achiote-infused corn oil (page 89)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ small white onion, finely chopped

½ small red onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

For the Thickener

1½ cups whole milk

1⁄3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (about 1½ ounces), roasted

1 teaspoon dried oregano 


Preparing the Hominy ▶__Prepare the mote by either the traditional or the pressure-cooker method. Set aside.

Cooking the Meats ▶__Place the pork, water, salt, and pepper in a medium pot and cook, covered,

over medium heat until fork-tender, about 1¼ hours if using pork shoulder or butt, 45 minutes if using

pork chops.

Preparing the Cooking Sauce ▶__Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until rippling. Add

the garlic and sauté until golden, about 20 seconds.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

When the meat is tender, stir the sauce into the pot and add the hominy. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, place the milk and pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Finishing the Soup ▶__Stir the pumpkin seed mixture into the pot, bring to a simmer, and cook,

covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the soup thickens lightly. Sprinkle with the oregano just before

serving. Serve in soup bowls, with Cuenca’s White Sandwich Rolls (page 589).

(* Recipe from 'Gran Cocina Latina' by Maricel Presilla- WW Norton, October 2012- reproduced with permission of the publisher)

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