Growing up in El Paso I was always able to count on one thing being there to eat, tamales. While my family didn’t make a tradition of making them each year, we always received them as a gift from family and friends. Many of my friends’ families would spend Christmas eve, or the days before, making tamales for post-midnight mass celebrations. Having stayed in Michigan this year Val and I decided to bring a little tradition into our home and make our own tamales.
We’ve made tamales before, and for the most part followed this basic recipe for the masa. The only difference this time around is I used 2 cups of veggie stock, real butter, and I nixed the green chile powder. For the fillings we made three different varieties: chipotle sweet potato; corn, peppers, and cheese; and faux-acoa (vegetarian barbacoa).
Chipotle sweet potato filling
- 1 tsp (or a little more) chipotle infused olive oil
- 1 medium to large sweet potato diced (into pieces 1/2-inch or smaller)
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 heaping tsp dried thyme
- 1 heaping tsp dried mexican oregano
- 2 tbsp canned chipotles in adobo sauce
Par-boil, or quick cook in the microwave, the sweet potato. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat up. Add the red onions and cook until translucent. Add the par-boiled sweet potatoes, chipotle powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook until potatoes begin to brown. Salt to your taste preference. Set aside. Puree the canned chipotles, you can use either a food processor or just chop into a puree. Set that aside as well. When making the tamales place a large spoonful of the sweet potato mixture in the masa then drizzle or spread some of the chipotle puree on top. Wrap the tamale.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 package of chorizo seitan (we use Uptons) diced
- 1 package of Rick Bayless’ Red Chile Barbacoa sauce (or make your own sauce)
I was a bit lazy on this one because the task of making 3 different fillings plus the tamales was a bit daunting. But none the less it worked quite well. Heat up a skillet to medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the chorizo seitan and cook for another minute or two, until the seitan heats up. Add about three quarters of a package of the barbacoa sauce and let cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. I didn’t add a full package because I didn’t want the mix to be to wet when putting it into the tamale. Add a large spoonful of the filling on top of the masa and wrap the tamale.
Chiles, cheese, and corn filling
- 2 poblano chiles
- 1 can of corn
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp green chile powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup shredded queso asedero (Queso Chihuahua or Monterey Jack will work too)
Roast the poblano peppers using whatever method you wish. I roasted them in the skillet over medium heat until they browned. Once browned, place into a paper bag for about 30-minutes or longer. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, stem, and deseed them. Dice them and set aside. Drain and rinse the corn. Heat a skillet to medium. Once hot add the butter, corn, and green chile powder. Cook until corn starts to brown. Add the chiles. Set aside. When making the tamales place some cheese and some of the chile and corn mixture into the tamale and wrap it up.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 red onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 5 medium tomatoes on the vine (cored and deseeded, cut into slices)
- 1 heaping tsp new mexico red chile powder
- 1 large roasted jalapeño minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (rinsed)
Pan roast the jalapeño and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions sweat. Add the red chile powder and cook for an additional minute or so. Add the slices of tomatoes and cook until they either start to brown or fall apart. Put tomato mixture into a food processor. Blend into a sauce like consistency. Add the minced jalapeño. Chop up the cilantro to a size that you like and add into the mixture. Set aside to serve on top of the tamales.
Steam the tamales for an hour. Set aside and let cool for a minute or two. Unwrap and enjoy.