Tetelas are pockets of corn masa filled with various ingredients. This dish is most popular in the regions of Oaxaca and Mexico City. The most common filling are beans that are cooked down into a thick paste. The fillings must be thick so when they cook on the hot comal (griddle), there is less chance of it leaking out. For my recipe I actually took my bean tamale filling, which is perfect for this recipe. Corn-based antojitos, or snack foods, are popular throughout Mexico, mostly found sold through street vendors or at the mercados prepared right in front of you as you wait. Some of the other fillings that are common are hongos (mushrooms) and chicharrón (pork rinds). And no tetela would be complete without a garnish of Mexican crema, crumbled cheese and extra spicy salsa. This recipe is a great make-ahead dish. Keep them stored as directed and fry in some shallow oil when ready to serve. If serving a big crowd, brush them all with oil on both sides and heat them in a 350-degree preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Great for game day or any gathering!
For the Masa
2cups masa harina(precooked corn flour — Maseca is popular)
In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients for the masa. Gradually mix in the water until dough starts to form. Add in the olive oil and mix until smooth. Make 16 dough balls (golf-ball size), transfer onto plate and cover with plastic wrap. In a medium sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients for the chile de arbol salsa, minus the salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring in between. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat a large skillet (with lid) to heat just below medium for a few minutes. Line a tortilla press with plastic. Press masa balls out gently to about 3½ to 4 inches in diameter. Spread 2 tablespoons of beans onto masa, leaving a ½-inch border all the way around. Add a slice of cheese in the center and a strip of jalapeño. It took me a few tries to get the triangular shape just right. They are delicious either way.
Now with the help of the plastic, bring in the sides equally to form a triangle, covering all the exposed beans. Gently press and remove from plastic. Cook on preheated pan 3 minutes per side or until they brown slightly. I cook with the lid on because this creates a little steam and helps the tetelas puff slightly and cook all the way through. Keep warm on a plate covered with a towel. Transfer the chile de arbol mixture to the blender, season with salt to taste and blend on high until smooth. Transfer to serving dish.
Now, you can serve the tetelas right off the hot comal or pan, or you can fry them in a little oil to get a crispier shell. Garnish with chile de arbol salsa, pico de gallo and queso fresco. In Mexico, they often slice them open on the end and add in some crema, queso and salsa instead of on top. If not eating right away, spread them out and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container, lined with paper towels in between each layer so they don’t stick. To reheat, brush with oil and heat in preheated pan for 2 minutes per side or until warmed through and crispy.
Lay out all of your prepped ingredients when ready to assemble and cook. It will make for a much easier process.
Use the plastic to help you form the triangular shape. The masa should feel like “Play Doh” — it sounds silly, but it really feels this way, moist, but not sticky.
For a quick version of the beans, drain and rinse a large can of pinto or black beans. Transfer to the blender, add 1½ cups of chicken broth, 1/2 cups mild salsa, 1 tablespoon mild chili powder and salt to taste. Blend until smooth and cook in skillet on low until thick.