This ancient dish is a specialty of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. When we lived in Oaxaca, I learned about segueza from Maribel Bautista who prepares traditional Zapotec food at La Cúpula Restaurant and B&B in the rug-weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle. Seguesa is often made with chicken, but the oldest way is with rabbit, since there were no chickens in Mexico until the Europeans came.
Dried corn, a staple among indigenous people of the Americas, is the object of a culinary revival in the US. If you do not live in an area with a significant Mexican population (especially one with a large Oaxacan community, such as Los Angeles) just enter “dried corn” in any Internet search engine and you will find sources for ordering it or preparing it yourself by air drying, oven drying, or using a dehydrator.
Guajillos are a good substitute for the chilcostle chiles that would be used in Oaxaca to make segueza.
For the rabbit:
- 1 3-pound rabbit, cut up into 6 pieces
- 1 medium white onion, quartered
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
- salt to taste
For the seguesa:
- 8 guajillo chiles, seeded and deveined
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 4 small tomatillos, without husks
- 6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 4 black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- corn oil for frying
- ¼ kilo (about ½ pound) dried corn
- 1-2 hoja santa leaves or ¼ teaspoon of aniseed
Place the rabbit, onion, garlic, 12 cups of water and salt to taste in a stockpot, bring to a boil, lower heat and cook, covered, until the rabbit is tender. Remove the rabbit, strain the stock and set aside.
Soak the chiles in hot water until soft. Roast the tomatoes, tomatillos and garlic on a dry comal or griddle until the tomatoes and tomatillos are blistered on the outside and the garlic is charred. Remove the garlic skin, but leave the skin on the tomatoes and tomatillos. Place tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, spices and chiles in a blender with enough chile soaking water to move the blades and make a puree. Strain the puree.
Pour enough corn oil in a large pot just to coat the bottom. Heat the oil and add the puree. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the reserved rabbit stock and the pieces of rabbit and simmer while you prepare the corn.
Toast the corn kernels in a dry skillet, moving them with a spatula until evenly browned. Allow the corn to cool, and then grind it coarsely (about like polenta) in a mortar, molcajete, or food processor. Add the ground corn and the hoja santa or aniseed to the stew and continue cooking until it thickens, about another ½ hour.
Serve the seguesa in soup bowls. Serves 6.
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