I. Am. So. Full.
Srsly, my belly is so full of tamales right now I can hardly type. But I will, because I’m really proud of myself, and it’s halfway through NaBloPoMo and I have to post :)
Back in the omni days in AZ, the hubs and I used to go sit in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Stapley and get a bag of tamales for five bucks. Some of my friends were even lucky enough to have a ‘tamale lady’ knock on their door from time to time.
Ever since leaving Arizona, and especially since becoming vegan, I’ve had a nagging desire in the back of my mind to tackle the art of tamale making. It always seemed so daunting and difficult, but it’s really not much more than time consuming. I was in the kitchen for about three hours total, but I think now that I know what I’m doing, I doubt it would take that long.
I started by roasting a poblano pepper while I got the rest of the filling started. I cut it in half and removed the seeds and membranes. I put it on parchment paper and a cookie sheet, sprayed it with olive oil and plopped it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 425.
For the filling, I sauteed some onions and the diced, roasted poblano with some garlic until they were browned. I threw in a can of black beans, a can of sweet white corn and a sweet potato that I steamed while the onions were browning. I seasoned to taste with cumin, chili pepper and salt. I gave it all a mash, and set it aside to cool. It’s not pretty, but man it was hard to not just eat it with a spoon…
I followed the recipe for masa dough from the PPK/Veganomicon. My only change was to add about 1/4 tsp of cumin and chili powder. The Kitchenaid was great for mixing up the dough, and made things go pretty quickly. It was still a little sticky, but I was able to roll a little into a ball without too much sticking to my hands.
4 Cups Masa Harina tamale flour
1/4 Cup olive or good quality corn oil
2 tsp. Baking powder
4 Cups vegetable broth, water or a combination of the two, warmed
Salt to taste (needed less if using all broth)
Add all ingredients to a large bowl or a stand mixer. Mix!
I soaked the corn husks for about 30 minutes in a bowl of warm water. I patted one side dry with a kitchen towl, and spread about 1/4 cup dough on with a spatula and about two tablespoons of filling down the middle. Through all the tamales my technique changed quite a few times. You just have to sort of figure it out as you go along. For speed and simplicity, I chose the one-ended wrap method. You roll the tamale up so the edges of the dough meet, then fold up one end in half. You can see in the picture below on the left hand side a few I had already made. I tied the first few with a piece of husk, but that took to long so I gave up. It made for cute presentation, though.
Naturally, I couldn’t find the lid to my stock pot, so I picked one up at the store while I was getting ingredients. I just bought it because of the size, but when I got home I read on the label that it was specifically for tamales and it came with a neat steamer insert. Bonus! I doubt it would be necessary though, you could use a veggie steamer basket or even piles of corn husks. The point is you don’t want your tamales to touch the water.
After filling the bottom of the pot with water, I stacked the finished tamales in, folded side down.
I let mine steam for about 90 minutes or so. They still felt very soft when I brought them out, but as they cooled they firmed up quite a bit. There was enough for the two of us to eat tonight, packed for lunch tomorrow, and I’ve still got about 12 to put in the freezer.
They were arguably the best tamales I’ve ever had. The filling had just enough kick and the corn flavor of the dough was so deliciously authentic! I’m glad I opted for broth in the dough rather than water, because they ended up so flavorful. I had mine with a dollop of Sour Supreme and squeezed some lime over the top. I’m already looking forward to lunch!!