Native Recipes


Myths and Legends of the Sioux: Forgotten Ear of Corn--One of the corniest Indian legends I've ever seen, transcribed as part of the e-text project of Univrsity of Virginia library. This is a whole collection of alleged "Sioux" alleged myths most of which obviously aren't Sioux (like this one isn't). They were written up by a 19th-century Army Indian Service wife, whose grandma was Mdewakanton. Missus McG's hubby is the McGlaughlin whom Hunkpapa of Standing Rock and Mdewakanton of Minnesota and Nebraska know about. His census rolls, which "define" tribal descendants' membership for the US government have caused enormous trouble. The McGlaughlin rolls omitted legitimate Indian people McGlaughlin didn't like and included 100% whites who bribed him or were drinking buddies seeking to get Indian land allottments. Was she ignorant of that? No! She was his official interpreter, on the U.S. Army payroll. She drafted all that stuff, the government stufrf, I mean. Not much nutritional value in this here corn, and there's dozens like it there. A (white) South Dakota newspaper just loved 'em in 1916.

USDA CORN NUTRIENTS--all kinds here, meal, masa harina, but no indications about dried corn traditionally treated with wood-ash lyewater or lime water to increase availability of proteins and vitamins.

Nutritional Data for SUCCOTASH; (CORN AND LIMAS), CND, WITH WHOLE KERNEL CORN, SOL&LIQ--This is succotrasch from canned corn and limas; has less B and C vitamins than if you cook fresh and more sodium because of salt used in canning.

Nutritional Data for HOMINY, CANNED, YELLOW--Canned hominy has little food value. In reality, the traditional preparation, with wood-ash water (up north) or lime-water (southwest and meso-America) greatly icnreased the protein available from sun-dried corn, and made its vitamin B-3 (niaacin, somewhat scarce in foods) more biologically available. This is probably true of the Mexican-style hominy in the Posole recipe, whose author says it's readily available in stores in the southwest.

Roast New Corn on the Cob for (outdoor) Powwow

The key to this is fresh corn from the field just that morning trucked in to the powwow ground before noon. Cut it with an 8" stem attached to the cob. A big bed of coals with a grill over it that has removable pieces so you can keep adding wood or charcoals through the afternoon. Several big tin gallon cans to hold melted butter to dip the roasted ears in. LOTS of big plastic garbage bags for the discarded husks. Pull the husks down and strip off some silk and MAKE SURE YOU GET ANY WORMS. Pull the husks back up, put the ear on the grill. Turn it a couple times. Usually about 7 - 10 minutes it's done, but this varies with the type of corn (and freshness). Husks should blacken slightly at their edges, but not turn brown. Push done ears off direct heat. When serving: pull off husks (into garbage!) and dip ear into melted butter. Wrap paper towel around stem and hand to customer. Have several sprinkle-cans of salt on counter. Don't do this if you can't get long-stemmed fresh corn; it just doesn't work.

EMAIL from a corn-on-cob expert: Yes it does work! We can only order loads of it from a farmer, not control its cut. Make sure your grill is very hot, so it roasts, not steams, the corn. Don't strip off the husks, to get the silk, they come off very easy when hot. Grill the corn about 7 minutes, so the edges of the husk blacken, then holding it with a dish towel, strip off the husks and silk and dip in butter. If worried about them seeing worms, turn your back to them.

Oven roasted in husks: You can roast it anywhere from 9 to 45 minutes, a lot depends on the variety. The more sugar in the corn, the less roasting time. 45 minutes at 400 degrees turns the husks all brown and dry, just beginning to burn the edges. You might strip the husks, then grill it under the broiler till it turns reddish brown, this is really roasted corn for traditional recipes. It's not dried out. The kernels scrape off the cob really easily.

Microwaving corn in the husk: Again, it depends on the variety, how much sugar is in it. Also microwaves are different. Usually 7 minutes on high is about right, then strip off the husks, using a dishtowel to protect from the heat. The silk will come off easily, too.

Here's a recipe for "brown corn". Bake 6 ears in husks at 400 for 15 minutes. Fry a cup of sliced mushrooms with 3 cloves garlic chopped fine in olive oil.. Then shuck the cooled-off corn and brush it with olive oil. Broil it, turning a couple times about 10 minutes till it turns light brown, then cut off the kernels. Mix corn, mushrooms, and 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 TBS chopped cilantro, 1 tsp marjoram, and some mild chile in adobo sauce chopped fine with sauce from the can -- not more than a couple tablespoons. How much sauce how much chile -- how hot do you like it? Squeeze in juice from 1/2 lime. Stir it all up. tossing to coat it all evenly like a salad.. Add about 1/2 tsp salt (taste). Serve either hot or at room temperature (room temperature: let sit for a couple hours is better) as a relish with chicken or meat.

-- From A. Nonny Moose (by request) from WI

PosoleStew--This recipe (on Indian Health Service page) uses a southwstern form of hominy, and it's also for outdoor grilling of the meat. You an use canned hominy or perhaps you can find dried whole hominy at a health-food store; if you use canned, naturally don't cook it before you add it to the final stew phase, and only put it in for the last 40 minutes. Dried hominy will cook up to a volume of 3 times, so 1.5 lbs dry would equal an addition of at least 2-3 quarts canned (this is whole hominy, not grits). Also, the meat can be roasted in an oven, and the peppers carred under the broiler or in a very hot oven in a paper bag. This recipe resides on the Indian Health Service server, which gives promise of more, I'll keep checking back.

Simpler Posole, Navajo -- serves 4-6

		2 cups blue dried posole (dried whole hominy)
		1/2 cup mild fresh green chiles, roasted, peeled
		       amd chopped or 1 4 oz can
		1 - 3 fresh or canned jalapeños, peeled, seeded, chopped
		2 cloves garlic, minced
		1 onion, chopped
		1 -2 peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes (about 1 cup)
		2 - 3 lb boneless pork roast
		2 tsp dried oregano
		1/4 cup choppeed fresh cilantro
		Salt to taste 

Rinse posole in cold water until water runs clear. Soak for several hours or overnight in cold water. Place posole with water to cover in large heavy covered pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and summer, covered, till posole pops, about 1 hour. Roasat the peppers (if fresh) in a paper bag in a 400 oven for about 10 minutes , remove, cool, peel (skin slips off easily). If using canned posole (about 8 cups) or frozen (3 lbs), omit the cooking step. Add everything but the herbs and salt. Simmer, covered, 4 hours. (3 if using canned or frozen hominy). Remove meat, shred, return to pot, add herbs. Taste for seasoning, add salt to taste. Simmer, covered, 1 more hour.

This recipe is from Marilyn Yazzie, Navajo, Tsenjikini (honeycombed rock) mother's clan, Tachiinnii (Red runs into the water) Father's clan. She favors using only fresh chiles, and likes it hot. She uses lean pork and no salt, for health reasons. If you're not so sure about fiery southwestern foods, use only 1 jalapeno, or use only mild green chiles, no jalapenos. This and many others can be found in Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking (see main RECIPES page, cookbooks section).

Because we don't have the taste for such hot foods up north here as they do in the southwest, when I make this posole I omit the jalapenos entirely, and added the cilantro to Marilyn's recipe. I cook up a bowl of hotter sauce for those who like it, and serve a (small) bowl of chopped jalapenos on the side for the real cast-iron gullets among us. I probably never will make the 2-day posole on the IHS server (seems kind of like you either have to live on a rach or in a sururban house with a backyard barbeque), but I've made Marilyn's many times, once 10 times the amount (in 4 pots) for a large crowd.

Posole Soup -- Serves 12

		6 lbs pigs' feet cracked or cut
		3 TBS fresh organo leaves,or 3 tsp dried
		2 large onions sliced
		6 bay leaves
		2 heads garlic cut in half
		3 tsp black pepper
		10 whole mild red chiles
		2 tsp cumin 
		1 tsp dried thyme
		1 tsp salt
		5 gallons water
		1 head garlic
		1 TBS fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
		2 lbs prepared posole
		2 lbs lean pork diced
		1 head cabbage, very thinly sliced
		12 radishes sliced thin
		1/2 cup red chile or ranchero sauce

Simmer broth ingredients in water 6-8 hours, skimming to remove excess fat and scum the first 2 hrs. Strain, reserve stock. Remove meat from pigs feet and return to stock.

Add posole, pork, oregano. Simmer 4-5 hrs, adding more water as needed, and skimming. Remove garlic head, taste for salt. Ladle soup and fixings into large bowls, garnish with cabbage, radishes, ranchero sauce, and if fresh oregano is availabl, a sprig of that.

Making hominy

I have no way to get wood (oak) ashes (and I think the southwestern kind is made in limewater), I'll give this recipe which was used up north 20 years or so ago, somebody try it with store-bought popcorn or health food co-op dried corn, see if it works, if you can get the ashes.

This is the method for making hominy from traditionally sun-dried corn as done up north on Ojibwe reservations here for many years. It's from Ona Kingbired ( Red Lake). I've never tried it.

Use sun-dried corn. But I'd like to know if dried pop-corn grain will work. Multicolored kernels have the most flavor.

Put 2 double-handfuls of ash from oak, maple or poplar wood fires into about 2-3 quarts of water. Boil for 1 hour and let it set all night to settle the ash out. In the morning, boil dried corn in this water, strained if necessary, until the skins slip off and the corn turns bright yellow (1-2 hours).. Rinse 3 times in fresh water. This fresh hominy can now be used immediately in soups and stews. The dried corn will absorb 3-4 times its volume of water. Hominy can also be dried for storage and cooked again (it swells up about 4 times and absorbs at least 4 times its quantity of water).

So, I'd like to hear from someone who can try this with wood ash and the kind of dried corn you can get in stores.

Southwestern tribes made hominy by cooking the dried corn kernels in a lye water made from a mix of corn-cob ashes and powdered lime in water, I'm informed. Either way, the net effect on the nutritional value of the corn is that while some nutrients are leached out, those weren't in available forms anyway. The treatment greatly increases the amounts of usable protein, usable vitamin B (especially thiamine, rarest among vegetable sources), and adds a considerable amount of usable calcium and potassium to the resulting food. (This is probably not true of the way factory-canned hominy is made.) If corn is the staple of your diet, it is hominy you will mostly eat. White people were unaware of this, because relatively little scientific attention was given to nutrition, and no scientists were willing to learn from so-called primitive people with their so-called irrational customs. In the 1920's and '30's, there was widespread pellagra among poor whites, especially in the south. Pellagra is a serious, eventually fatal, disease caused entirely by nutritional deficiences that arise from eating diets largely of of milled cornmeal, chemical hominy, and corn-off-the-cob or canned. Corn was bum-rapped by scientific nutritionists because of the pellagra epidemic. They didn't realize that traditional people, whose diet often consisted almost entirely of corn and beans knew how to handle it to get the best food values from it.

Corn casserole (serves 4-5 as main dish)

		3 cups Monterey Jack or similar grated cheese
		6 slices whole wheat bread torn up
		1 lb canned creamed corn
		1/2 cup chopped celery
		1/4 cup chopped onion
		1  cup corn
		3  eggs beaten with:
		1/2 tsp salt
		1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
		6 drops Tabasco sauce
		1/2 tsp dry yellow mustard

Fry the onion and celery together. Layer the bread (bottom) vegetables, and cheese in an oiled casserole dish. Pour the creamed corn over the top. Then pour the egg mixture over that. Let it stand 30 minutes, then bake in a 350 oven for 1 hour, placed in a pan of hot water.

As a main dish, this supplies about 40% of a day's protein requirement. By protein complementarity, the available amount can be increased to 55% by adding 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, but some people don't like crunchies in it.

Frypan Corn/bean Fork Bread Serves 4-6

		1/2 cup dry beans (kidney or black)
		3/4 cup bean stock
		1 large onion chopped
		2-6 cloves garlic, minced

		1 egg beaten 
		2 tbs corn oil
		1 cup cornmeal
		2 tsp baking powder
		1 - 4 Tbsp chili powder
		3/4 cup grated cheese
		1 tomato cut up very fine
		a few green onions cut up
		1/4 cup black olives sliced

Cook beans covered, with a bay leaf, in 2 1/2 cups water so about 3/4 cup liquid will remain when they are very tender. If you bring them to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them cool off an hour, you can then boil them without soaking all night previousy. Add salt the last 15 minutes only. Fry onion and garlic in a little corn oil, in a big skillet that can go in the oven. Leave half of it in the bottom of the skillet. Mix the cornmeal, other dry ingredients, egg, beans and bean stock with the other half of fried onions/garlic. Mix thoroughly and pour into the skillet on top of the fried onion/garlic left in it. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, then sprinkle on cheese, olives, tomato and onion, bake 5 minutes longer. This is a fork-eating, not a pick-up corn bread. The corn and beans combine protein complementarity to make one serving about 20% of a day's protein requirement. However, you better make 2 skillets of this for your family if this is the main dish.

Indian cornmeal pudding serves 4-6

There must be several hundred recipes for this. East coast tribal people taught settlers how to make it. Settlers sometimes calld it "Hasty pudding" kind of a joke, because the stone-ground cornmeal required many hours of baking. This recipe adds a small amount of soy grits -- precooked soy beans ground up to a fine quick-cooking meal. Through protein complementarity, that greatly increases the availability of proteins in this dessert.

		4 cups milk
		1 cup yellow cornmeal
		1/4 cup soy grits soaked in 1/2 cup water
		1/3 cup butter
		1/2 cup brown sugar
		2/3 cup light molasses
		3/4 tsp salt
		1/2 tsp cinnamon
		1/4 tsp cloves
		1/4 tsp ginger
		1/8 tsp allspice
		1/8 tsp nutmeg
		1/2 cup fine-chopped dried apples (optional)
		2 eggs

In a big pan, bring the milk to a boil, then add the cornmeal and soy grits gradually stirring rapidly to keep lumps from forming. Lower heat and beat vigorously until it starts to get thick (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Add butter, sugar, molasses (can use maple syrup) and spices, let cool somewhat. Stir in 2 beaten eggs. Pour into buttered baking dish, bake 50-60 minutes at 325, until pudding is firm. Serve warm with cream, vanilla icecream, or plain yoghurt.

If soy grits is used: one serving is about 30% of a day's protein requirement. Some kinds of cornmeal (stone ground) have more protein and other minerals and vitamins, though it depends on where/how it was grown.

Corn Soup, Serves 6-8

This is another one where there's a million recipes, plus the fact you can throw in whatever you have on hand.

			1/2 lb salt pork
			2 big onions, sliced
			3 cups diced boiled potatoes
			2 cups boiling water
			2 cups cooked corn, fresh or canned
			4 cups hot milk
			1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste
			chopped parsley garnish

Cut pork into 1/2-inch dice, try out. Add onion, cook slowly 5-10 minutes, stirring, until transparent but not bfowned. Add potatoes, corn, boiling water, hnot milk. Season to taste, serve with garnish. Other things to throw into this soup: cooked carrots, rutabagas, turnips, leftover beans, canned tomatoes. Leftover ham, chopped. Use a broth made from any bones instead of water. To make a thicker chowder, make a roux of 2 Tbs butter and 2 of flour, frizzled, stir this into 1 cup of the milk, cook and stir until thickened. Stir this white sauce into the rest of the liquid as you add it to the vegetables. Like most soups and stews, corn soup is mostly an idea rather than a recipe. What you put in it depends on what you have.

Mohawk Corn Soup -- Chris Kahon:wes Deer, Mohawk

Mohawk Corn Soup--Chris Kahon:wes Deer -- Kahnahwake (Canada) Mohawk, is a college student who maintains a very informative homepage (and soon will be producing a Mohawk Nation page). He posted this recipe on the personal section of his homepage. I very well demonstrates what I said about my own corn chowder recipe: Soups and stews are ideas, not recipes. Put in what you got! Put in what you like! Put in enough to make enough to feed everybody! And after you've checked out his recipe, look at the rest of Kahon:wes's Mohawk Home Page highly informative!

New Corn-Stuffed Tamales (Tamale de Elote) -- Mayan, makes 8 tamales

		1 1/2 cups roasted  fresh corn kernels, scraped from cobs
		1/2 cup milk
		1 cup masa harina (Lime-water prepared cornmeal)
		1 cup softened butter
		1 tsp baking powder
		1/2 tsp salt
		2 -3 mild canned green chiles, seeded and chopped fine
		1/2 cup grated Monterey jack cheese

Masa harina: This is cornmeal that has been prepared with lime or wood-ash lye water. It's different from ordinary cornmeal, cooks up softer, absorbs lots of fat during its cooking, holds together better in tortillas, etc. It's available from Mexican food stores. Masa differes from cornmeal in another important way. As with hominy, the treatment by lye or lime water balances the corn's amino acids, so there is actually more available or usable form protein. Corn got a bad rap nutritionally when the invaders, not recognizing the nutritional importance of this treatment (which was universal among corn-growing tribes) skipped that step and lived off of plain ground cornmeal -- what's available to you, mostly, in stores. Many suffered from the eventually fatal nutritional deficiency disease pellagra (if became almost synonymous with poor white trash in the rural south).

Properly treated and cooked, corn, which was a native dietary staple almost everywhere it grows, for 4,000 years, is as nutritious as wheat, and may be more so if what is grown in minearl-depleted soil with chemical fertilizers. Fresh corn nowadays has been bred up to be much higher in sugar -- 2 - 4 times higher -- than the colorful, traditional 4-colors corn, which is still a taste treat (and nutritional bonanza) if you can get it.

To roast the fresh corn: just put them (in their husks) in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. Husks and silk will peel off easily. Then scrape off kernels, standing cob in a big frypan to catch them. Depending on the ears, it will take 2-4 ears to make 1 1/2 cups of kernels.

Cornhusk tamale wrappers: The ones you just prepared are probably dried out and frizzeled. If you've saved and dried husks, steep them in boiling water to cover (poured over them, not cooked) while roasting and scraping the corn. Otherwise, you'll have to use foil wrappers.

Simmer milk and corn for about 10 minutes. Strain the corn, reserve the milk, and puree 1/2 cup of the kernels with this milk, reserving the rest for putting in the tamale dough. Add the puree to the masa, mix vigorously with spoon and whisk. In a separate large bowl, whip the soft butter, baking powder, and salt together until very fluffy. Start adding the masa mixture about 1/4 cup (guesstimated) at a time whisking and beating vigorously after each dough addition. Spend 15 minuts at least beating the masa mix into the butter. Fold in the green chile, the remaining cup of corn kernels, and grated cheese.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 Tbsp each. Pat each piece into a rectangle on a trimmed cornhusk to form a square or rectangle, leaving a husk border at the edges of the tamale at least 1 inch. Now fold up the rectangle along the length of the cornhusks and pinch it into a roll, loosely. Roll the husk up completely around the dough roll. Tie the ends with strips of cornhusk (traditional), or string (easier). The wrapping shouldn't be totally tight, so steam can get in. Place the wrapped tamales seam-side down on the rack of any kind of steamer (wok with a rack and tight cover will do, I use big enameled cast-iron frypan with tight lid). Tamales shouldn't touch the boiling water. Steam for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve (diners unwrap their own) with any kind of hot tomato or other type of sauce. Those celebrating New Corn eat it without sauce, but fat or butter is sometimes available.

--Frybread--Tasty Symbol of all-Indian unity
--Native cookbooks --Nutrition info, cookbooks for kids
--Wild rice recipes --Maple sugar/syrup recipes
--Corn, hominy, cornmeal -- Beans and Greens
--Squash, pumpkin --Deermeat, Meat
--Fish, birds --Fruit and Berries
--Herbal Teas, Culinary Herbs --Xocoatl (Chocolate), Aztecs (and south) YUM!

Copyright 1995, Paula Giese

Last Updated: Sunday, February 18, 1996 - 3:09:20 PM