Corn is the essence of the Oaxacan culture. Field dried corn is most commonly used to make nixtamal in order to make tortillas. Nixtamal is the process of cooking and soaking corn with pickling lime. This process allows for the corn to softened and easily ground into a masa dough to make fresh tortillas.
If nixtamilization is something you are not ready for, we recommend you try making atole or champurrado. It is a warm and delicious drink that is a staple of Oaxaca cooking.
8 3/4 ounces (250 grams) of dried corn kernels
4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) of Mexican chocolate
1/2 cup (100 grams) of sugar
In a large pan of any kind under medium heat, toast the dried corn until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add the toasted corn and enough water to completely submerge corn by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and then cook, covered, for 30 minutes or until corn kernels are al dente.
Remove the corn from the heat and allow to continue soak and cool for a couple of hours, or overnight. Once liquid is back to room temperature, pour the corn through a colander and discard water.
Add the corn kernels and 3 cups of water in a blender and blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh metal strainer and place mixture in a bowl. Reserve the corn grits and add back to blender with 2 cups of water. Blend again until smooth. Pass this mixture through a fine mesh metal strainer into the same bowl with other corn mixture. Strain all of this liquid once again through a cheesecloth, so you get an almost-almond-milk-like consistency.
Pour this strained masa water into a large pot under medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, so the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. The stirring is very important in this dish because if the mixture sticks to the bottom, it will be burnt.
Once the mixture has thickened to the texture of heavy cream, add 5 cups of water, chocolate, and sugar. Continue to stir mixture and simmer for 10 more minutes or until chocolate has dissolved.