I am Aunt Vicky
“I’m Aunt Vicky; take a seat and I will prepare some delicious gorditas encarceladas for you” we were told by a kind, tenacious woman with a glow about her in the town of Estación Catorce in the state of San Luis Potosí.
Tia Vicky sells gorditas encarceladas, which means “jailed gorditas,” in her small shop. They are called “jailed gorditas“ because the cheese they are prepared with is “jailed” in the masa, or dough.
How We Ended Up in Tia Vicky’s Restaurant
We were on a photography trip for SEEK Workshops to the town of Real de Catorce, a ghost town in the San Luis Potosí Sierras and we decided to take a side trip to Estación Catorce (Spanish link) a tiny town of 1200 people to have a look. When we arrived in Estación Catorce we were hungry and looking for somewhere to get a bite to eat. We asked in the main plaza if there was anyplace to eat. The enthusiastic response was, “with Tia Vicky.”
Our taxi to Estación Catorce was a vintage Willys. The last Willys taxi back to Real de Catorce leaves at 2:00pm which we missed because we were have such an enjoyable time eating and talking to Tia Vicky. We ended up walking 4 1/2 hours to get back.
Tia Vicky at Work
While Tia Vicky was at work making gorditas we asked if we could photograph her and the process of preparing gorditas. She happily agreed and even offered to share her recipe with us.
How to Make Gorditas Encarceladas
We made some gorditas encarceladas the way that Tia Vicky showed us. They came out great. Let us show you how to make them with a really tasty potato and chorizo filling. (Recipe for the potato chorizo filling)
First Prepare the Masa (Corn Meal Dough)
Buy masa harina, corn meal to make the dough. You will probably find two types of masa harina at the supermarket, one that says it is for tortillas and one that says its for tamales. The one for tortillas is milled finer and the one for tamales is milled coarser. We prefer the coarser corn corn meal used for tamales. But either works well.
Add the water to the corn meal.
Knead with your hands to incorporate the water. You dough turns out better when you knead it by hand not with a mixer.
The finished masa (dough).
Prepare the Gordita Filling
Tia Vicky prepares the filling for the gorditas with a queso de rancho, a cheese prepared for local consumption only in her region. You can use cotija cheese, or Chihuahua cheese.
Break up the cheese first.
Break open the ancho chiles and remove the seeds and veins.
Soak the chiles in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes until they have reconstituted and softened.
Use a food processor or blender to combine the ancho chile and cheese until you have a coarse paste. Don’t overmix. It should have some texture.
Form the Gorditas
Form a palm sized ball of masa, dough.
Make an indentation in the center of the ball.
Fill the indentation with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chile cheese paste.
Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and then press the ball to form the gordita. We used the lid of a mayonnaise jar to press the gorditas
Notice how the ancho chile and cheese becomes “jailed” in the dough.
Cook the Gorditas
Once you have formed the gorditas, it’s time to cook them. In a dry pan over medium high heat cook them on each side for about 5 minutes.
Cook until golden brown. We cooked ours until they were extra toasted.
Fill the Gorditas
With a sharp knife carefully split it gordita open. When the gorditas have cooled just slightly to the touch carefully split each one open with a sharp knife.
Time to Eat
- 2 lbs. masa harina, corn meal
- ½ lb. Oaxaca, Chihuahua, cotija or panela cheese
- 4 ancho chiles
- 6 cups water, plus ½ cup if needed
- 1 tsp. salt
- PREPARING THE GORDITA DOUGH
- Place your corn meal in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the 6 cups of water.
- Knead with your hands to incorporate the water.
- If the dough is too dry, add a few tablespoons of water at a time until the dough has the correct consistency. It should be slightly moist but not sticky.
- PREPARING THE FILLING
- Break up the cheese first.
- Break open the ancho chiles and remove the seeds and veins.
- Soak the chiles in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes until they have reconstituted and softened.
- Use a food processor or blender to combine the ancho chile and cheese until you have a coarse paste. Don't overmix. It should have some texture.
- FORMING THE GORDITAS
- Form a palm sized ball of masa, dough.
- Make an indentation in the center of the ball.
- Fill the indentation with about 1½ tablespoons of the chile cheese paste.
- Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and then press the ball to form the gordita.
- In a dry pan over medium high heat cook them on each side for about 5 minutes. Cook until golden brown.
- With a sharp knife carefully split it gordita open. When the gorditas have cooled just slightly to the touch carefully split each one open with a sharp knife.
- Fill your gordita with your favorite guisado. We used potato and chorizo. They would also be great with some frijoles de la olla.
- Serve stuffed with your favorite guisado and topped with your favorite salsa.
**The story is written as told to me by Andrés Carnalla.