The internet is so full of entirely bogus Paraguayan recipes--particularly bogus chipa recipes posted by Argentines who don't even seem to realize that chipa is a predominantly paraguayan food--that I felt it was time to get at least one good, tested recipe out there for my fellow paraguayan-american cooks, aimlessly and hopelessly surfing the internet for some direction. I searched all websites, english and spanish, combined incites from a few recipes that seemed on the right track, and used my good sense and knowledge of what chipa should be like to come up with something that is very authentic in taste, texture, and aroma. I'm pretty sure the ones you get on the street are made from yuca starch alone, but, when I tried that last time, they just didn't taste right. So these are chipa mestizo, meaning they are made with both yuca starch and corn meal. As they came out of the oven today, they were every bit as good as you get in Paraguay.
The process did involve rendering my own lard from pork fat, which I admit is probably more ambitious than many of you get. The alternatives were to use oil, which I guarantee would not come out right; butter, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol than lard and doesn't taste as good; shortening, which generally is full of the newly dreaded transfat; or store-bought lard, which is tasteless and full of the same transfats because it is hydrogenated. If you live near a fancy butcher or a large mexican community, you can probably find fresh rendered lard. For me, there was really there was no other option but to do it myself. I had always wanted to try my hand at it anyway, and it turned out to be completely worth it because the chipa were awesome. I also can't wait to use the leftover lard to make some flour tortillas!
Since I'll be working in paraguay for quite a while starting in July, I'd like to make this the first in a series of paraguayan recipes I'll be posting, in an effort to improve the quality of Paraguayan food information available online. Maybe I can convince a chipera to divulge her formula so that we can finally have a definitive chipa recipe. In the meantime, her is my best effort:
500g Yuca Starch
500g corn flour (milled much finer/powdery than corn meal)
500g Grated Cheese (you want a strongly flavored cheese with high fat content; if you have access to a Brazilian grocery, queijo minas curado has the right flavor and consistency)
8 tbs. Lard
1 tbs anise seed
1 cup milk
1 tbs salt
Mix the cornmeal and yuca starch in a very large bowl. Add the eggs, the lard, and the grated cheese. Mix this together until it is fairly uniform; it will be crumbly but you should work out any large lumps and make sure the lard and egg are evenly distributed. Dissolve the salt into the milk and add it to the mixture along with the anise. Knead until it is smooth and uniform and anise is evenly distributed. It should have the consistency of soft clay.
Preheat the oven (and baking stone if you have one) to 500. Shape the dough as you like, small nuggets for chipitas, or rings for the traditional shape, though the large oval shapes (below) came out the best for me. Bake for 15-20 minutes directly on a baking stone or on an ungreased baking sheet until they are golden brown with a crisp exterior. They should still be somewhat doughy and cheesy inside and are best hot. The rings were slightly overdone in 15 minutes, but the large ovals were absolutely perfect.
Here they are as part of merienda with the obligatory cup of cocido quemado.