Uchepos, The Tamales Made With Sweet Pureed Corn You Need To Try

One foolproof way to bring joy into your life is to buy an armload of fresh Silver Queen corn from your local farmers market and consume it with butter and a minimal expenditure of effort. Soaking and grilling the corn in the husk? Yes, please! Combining the corn with fresh field peas, tomatoes, and other veggies to make classic succotash? Sign us up! Here's another way to get the most use from whole ears of corn: uchepos — a kind of tamale made from pureed sweet corn steamed in the husks.

Uchepos are pretty easy to make. First, cut the bottoms off the ear above the stem so the husks can be removed (these should be wiped clean with a damp paper towel and reserved). Then, stand each ear up on its base and cut off the kernels. We also recommend scraping the cut ears with the flat side of the blade to release the starchy "milk". Add the kernels and some milk to a food processor (or molcajete for those doing it old-school) and puree. Next, incorporate a mixture of softened butter, crème fraîche, sugar, and baking powder. Once drained, wrap the mixture in the husks and steam them. The result will be pure joy.

From pre-Columbian ceremonies to your table

Uchepos are thought to have originated in the southern Mexican state of Michoacán with the Purépecha people, who used it for royal ceremonies and harvest rituals. Because they're consumed all over the country, uchepos are sometimes known by different names, like tamales de elote or tamales dulce. The dish is pre-Columbian, meaning it predates the Spanish conquest of the early 16th century. The fact that it is still with us is a testament to its simple and delicious genius.

As you can imagine, there are many variations of uchepos. Some are made sweet with butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. Sweet uchepos are typically served with cream and a sweet Mayan corn-based drink called atole. Savory uchepos, on the other hand, are made more like their tamale cousins with masa harina, or corn flour. These versions are sometimes stuffed with, well, pretty much anything from veggies to cheese to meat. The style of uchepos made from pureed fresh corn and dairy goes beautifully with a pat of sweet butter, a sprinkle of crumbly cotija cheese, and a dollop of piquant salsa verde.