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Aug 10, 2006 12:44 AM

New Mexican chicos (dried corn AKA guachal)?

Does anyone have any experience with this dried corn?

I was in a Mexican store today and they were selling little bags of these. It looked just like popcorn. HOWEVER, for about 1/4 cup, the cost was $7. Which seems around the ballpark as this site sells it for $16.99 lb (with picture).

So I need more information before throwing my money away on a handful of corn, or I might feel like Jack of 'Jack in the Beanstalk' fame trading a cow for a handful of beans. How magic are chicos taste-wise?

This link says "Traditionally, the corn is dried in the hornos or Indian ovens, which gives it a smoky taste. Today, however, most of the chicos are dried in commercial ovens and lack the distinctive taste."

So is there a way to tell by looks if you have the type that tastes smoky? For seven bucks I want smoky ... dried in hornos.

The store selling them didn't even know what they were and had to Google.

Here's a little more with a picture of them cooked.

This site says that a way to prepare them was to dig a pit and a fire was built in it that burned for about two days. The unhusked corn was put in the pit and covered with soil. Then

"The partially roasted ears are removed, the husks stripped back, and the ears tied together in pairs and hung out to dry. The kernels were roasted to kill the grains, and to help them dry faster to preserve their food value. "

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  1. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to reply in case anyone is interested. Chicos are indeed dried sweet corn. And they are SERIOUSLY delicious!!!

    They taste like the sweetest summer corn, intensified. Incredible. Perfect with a little bit of pork, dried chile, and onion. You have to cook them a long time, though. Soak the chicos overnight, then simmer the stew 3-4 hours. Or just cook them in a crockpot on low all day and then add the browned pork and onions.

    Sometimes they're made from roasted sweet corn, sometimes not roasted. They look different from posole or other dried corn because they are quite shriveled. You can tell if they are roasted, because they will be a deep golden brownish color instead of a light yellow, or bright yellow like popcorn.

    I hope it's not tacky to link to my blog, where I have a recipe for chico stew, but there really aren't too many recipes for chicos out there and I really really recommend trying them!