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The Hirshon Yucatecan Stuffed Cheese – Queso Relleno


Units Scale
  • 4 lb. Edam cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 lb. lean pork, ground
  • Salt
  • 4 tbsp. lard (preferred) or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped, or 2 canned pimientos
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground allspice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup small, pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • the reserved pork stock
  • 1/8 tsp. powdered saffron, or thread saffron ground in a mortar with a pestle
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped, or 2 canned pimientos, chopped
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup small, pitted green olives, halved
  • 2 28ounce cans tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted tomatoes) undrained OR 3 pounds (about 6 medium-large round or 20 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into large pieces
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 hot banana peppers (xkatic chiles in the Yucatan), stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons pork lard (preferred) or vegetable oil
  • 1 large sprig epazote, if you have it
  • Salt


  1. Peel the red wax covering off the cheese. Cut an inch thick slice from the top and hollow it out slightly. Scoop out the cheese, leaving a shell ½ to ¾ inch thick. Reserve the scooped out cheese for another use.
  2. Put the shell and lid in a large bowl of cold water to cover, and soak for 1 hour.
  3. Hard-boil the eggs and drop them into cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, shell them. Carefully remove the whites, leaving the yolks whole. The best way to do this is with the fingers. Finely chop the whites and set both whites and yolks aside
  4. Put the pork into a saucepan with enough water to cover and salt to taste. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until the onion is soft. If using the pimientos, add with the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture is quite thick, about 5 minutes.
  6. Drain the pork and reserve the stock. Add the onion and tomato mixture to the pork with the oregano, cloves, salt and pepper to taste, the chopped egg whites, olives, raisins, capers, and sherry, mixing well.
  7. Remove the cheese shell and lid from the water, drain and pat dry. Divide the meat mixture into three parts. Put one-third of it into the cheese, patting it down firmly. Halve the egg yolks.
  8. Make a layer of 6 halved yolks on top of the meat. Spoon in another third of the meat mixture and pat down lightly. Make a layer of the remaining 6 halved egg yolks, and top with the rest of the meat mixture.
  9. Place the lid on the cheese and rub the cheese all over with lard or oil. Wrap it in a double layer of cheesecloth, then place on a rack in a steamer, and steam over boiling water for 40 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile prepare the white sauce: Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for a minute. Do not let the flour brown. Add the reserved pork stock, making up the quantity with water to 2 cups, if necessary.
  11. Add the saffron the bell pepper or pimientos, salt and pepper to taste, and the olives. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
  12. For the red sauce: in a blender, smoothly puree the tomatoes, onions, garlic, roasted garlic and chiles. If using fresh tomatoes, add about ½ cup water to help get the blending started.
  13. In a large (4-quart) saucepan, heat the lard or oil over medium. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle, add it all at once, along with the epazote, then cook, stirring regularly, until as thick as tomato sauce, about 10 minutes.
  14. Taste and season with salt, usually about a scant teaspoon.
  15. Lift the cheese out of the steamer and remove the cheesecloth. Place the cheese on a warmed serving platter and pour the red and white sauces over it. To serve, cut the cheese in wedges.

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