A few years ago I decided to buy a book on tamales because I was disappointed by the tamale selection here in Southeast Michigan. That is not to say that there are no places to find tamales, and even some good ones, they just aren’t as good as they can be or what I was used to growing up. A few weekends ago I had a little more time on my hand so I decided it was time to dig in and cook some tamales. I made two kinds but the fillings—nopales and roasted poblanos with corn; one would probably be enough for the masa that this makes we had quite a bit of leftovers which made for some delicious quesadillas. The masa recipe is a slightly modified version of Daniel Hoyer’s whipped masa recipe.
- Several corn husks (about 24 or more)
Soak the corn husks for about an hour or more. They need to be pliable.
- 3 1/2 cups masa for tamales
- 2 1/4 cups hot water
- 1 1/4 cups butter @ room temp (I used Earth Balance, we had some vegan friends coming over)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups veggie stock
- 2 tbsp green chile powder
To make the masa mix the hot water and masa to make a dough. Set aside for about 30 minutes covered. Using a stand mixer whip the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add about 1-inch size pinches of the masa dough at a time, waiting for each one to be incorporated into the mix. Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the masa add some of the veggie stock and then start to alternate adding the masa and veggie stock until both are well incorporated. Add the chile powder and salt, mix until completely combined. You can test the masa mix by seeing if a small pinch floats in water. If it doesn’t add more veggie stock. Set aside until ready to use.
For the nopales:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a chipotle infused one)
- 3 large nopales (cactus pads) diced
- 1 jalapeño minced
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 tomatoes on the vine cored and deseeded and diced.
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- salt to taste
Heat a medium pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil; once the oil is heated add the garlic, jalapeño, and onion until they start to sweat. Add the nopales, Mexican oregano and thyme. Cook until nopales begin to soften, it will take a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to soften. Salt to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside.
For the roasted poblanos and corn:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 large poblano peppers
- 1 small package frozen corn
- 1 tsp butter (Earth Balance)
- 1 tsp green chile powder
- a sprinkle or two of granulated sugar to bring out/add to the sweetness of the corn
- salt to taste
Pre-heat an oven to 375. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and place in the oven to roast. You’ll roast them until the skin starts to brown and gets puffy. Be sure to flip them at some point in time. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes in our oven to get them nicely roasted. While they roast, heat the corn up in salted water (we used a microwave, but you can use a pot if necessary). Drain and set aside. Once roasted put them in a brown paper bag to steam. Steam for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, and then core and deseed. I usually like a little heat so I leave a few seeds in. Dice the peppers and mix in with the corn. Add the butter and green chile powder, mix until the butter is melted and well combined. Salt to taste. (Note you can add some good asadero cheese to this mix when you spoon it onto the tamale if you’d like (I did), or add some nu-yeast for a cheesy flavor (I did that for our vegan friends))
Putting it all together:
Prepare a pot or some sort of apparatus for steaming. Grab a well soaked corn husk, towel off excess moisture. In the upper half of it spoon some of the masa onto the husk and spread it about 1/4″ thick. Cover about 2/3rds of the top half starting from the center. Scoop a good spoonful or two of one of the fillings into the center of the masa. Fold/roll over the edges of the corn husk to form a tube. Fold the bottom half over the top half. Tie the tamale. Set aside. Once you have made all of your tamales place them in the steamer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Once finished remove from steamer and let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Serve however you want. We topped ours with some homemade salsa (below) and guacamole.
Extra special bonus green salsa:
- 1+ tsp of olive oil
- 4-5 medium to large tomatillos
- 1/2 purple onion finely diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 lime juiced
- 2/3 cup cilantro chopped
- salt to taste
Lightly coat the jalapeño and tomatillos in the oil. Place in a pan over medium heat. Roast until the tops, bottoms, sides (if they will stay on their side) brown and become soft. Set aside to cool. Core the tomatillos. Remove the stem of the jalapeño, deseed if you desire, and mince. In a food processor or blender add the tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapeño, and lime juice. Blend to a consistency you like (best to pulse blend if you have that option). Add salt and cilantro. Serve.