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Ntsidigo'7 (Kneeldown Bread)

Also known as Navajo tamales, Kneeldown Bread is baked in a corn husk. It used to be made in bulk after the corn harvest and stored over the winter like a hard cracker. One old recipe reads as follows: “Scrape the kernels from fresh corn cobs and grind on a metate until mushy. Wrap in several layers of corn husks. Place in the ashes of a wood fire and cover with fresh corn husks or leaves to seal in the heat and steam. Cover with a layer of moist dirt, then a layer of hot coals. Stoke a small fire over all the layers and bake the breads about 1 hour. Remove the packets from the ash pit, peel off the husks, and eat hot.” Modern recipes utilize a hand grinder or food processor and an indoor oven as well as an underground outdoor fire. Ground green corn is dit[0g7. Kneeldown Bread is sometimes sold by vendors at flea markets. Cold bread is commonly eaten dunked in hot coffee.

Makes 10 breads
10 ears fresh naad33
3 tablespoons 'ak'ah
1 1/3 cups t0
'1sh88h to taste

1. Husk the corn, reserving the husks for wrapping. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob. Scrape down the cob with the dull side of the blade to release the corn milk. In a food processor, grind the kernels to a mush. Add the lard, water, and salt, and process just enough to make a paste.

2. Divide the mixture into 10 equal portions. To fill the husks, lay out the husk so that the natural curl faces up to enclose the filling. Spoon the filling lengthwise into the center of the husk. Using strips of husks, tie both ends to enclose the filling. Gently bend the bread in half to tie the two ends together. Wrap each bread in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until breads are firm to the touch. Serve hot. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Breads of the Southwest: Recipes in the Native American, Spanish, and Mexican Traditions, by Beth Hensperger. 1997: Chronicle Books: San Francisco, CA



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