it was the hubby and i’s 1 year anniversary on sunday, and to celebrate we took a 3 day weekend filled with food! it started saturday night with a gorge fest at origami sushi. i know some vegans out there are like “sushi wtf?” but origami will make you whatever rolls you can dream of besides having some super tasty vegan rolls already on the menu. but more about sushi another day. todays topic is tamales! after our all day fair excursion looking for la lomas tamales and coming up short, we were determined to make our own. we decided that this would be a good activity when we had some free time. the first thing we did was head to a mexican market to acquire some masa harina and some corn husks. the store had an enormous shelf of fresh tortillas in the produce section and an amazing looking panaderia (bakery) full of every sweet bread and donut imaginable. i’m going to have to dedicate a week to trying to veganize and replicate the tasty gems dan grew up with!
the great wall of tortillas and chiles
the husks come in a one size fits all bag and we only went through half of them. we ended up buying extra flour too. a 4 lb bag was more than enough for the 6 dozen we made (i know, holy shit!), if we used the entire bag, i think we would have made at least 8 dozen. perfect amount for your next quinceneara or potluck! the entire process from making the fillings and the dough, and steaming them took us about 4 hours, but if you only make 2 dozen it shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half. if you do go the crazy route and make 6 dozen (or more!) invite some friends over, get some beer, and play games and watch movies while you steam tamales!
*tip, feel free to make half the dough recipe and use only one of the filling recipes, or any filling in the amount of 3-3 1/2 cups. each filling recipe made about 30-32 tamales and we had a scant amount leftover for a few “plain” tamales. dan’s sisters favorite!
before you begin, place about 70 corn husks into a sink full of warm water for at least 30 minutes before making your tamales!
makes about 64 small or 32 large tamales.
*tip, see how deep your steamer basket is before you decide to make large ones!
8 cups Masa Harina flour
8 cups warm vegetable broth
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 c high quality corn oil.
i did this in two batches. in a large bowl, or the bowl of your counter top mixer, combine the flour and the soda and mix in the broth until well combined. with the mixer running, add the oil and beat on medium low until a fluffy, sticky dough forms. turn out into large bowl, and cover with saran wrap while you make your filling/s.
midwest vaygun hard at work
Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean filling
makes 30-32 small tamales
2 medium (3/4 lb) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 can black beans. drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp epazote
1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder (less if desired)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, optional but delicious!
2 tbs oil
heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. add the onion and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. add the potatoes and seasoning and brown all over, about 10 minutes. cover and turn heat to low, cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. remove from heat and mash well, season with salt and pepper to taste. fold in black beans and set aside. proceed with filling and wrapping!
fast re-fried bean filling
a traditional filling dan grew up with
makes about 30-32 small tamales
3 15 oz cans pinto or your favorite bean, drained and rinsed
1 tbs oil
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
salt, to taste
place beans in a sauce pan over medium heat and mash well with the 1 tbs oil. add water to reach desired consistency. remove from heat and salt to taste. feel free to use your own soaked, steamed beans for more flavor! proceed with filling and wrapping!
filling and wrapping!
before you begin you will need a work station set up with a large spoon, plate, and a clean towel for each tamale assembly line helper since you will be filling for a while, i would suggest doing this sitting comfortably.
grab one husk place it ridged side up and tear the side off if necessary, so that it roughly 5-6 inches wide, widest part next to you. if you want extra large tamales, use an 8 inch wide husk, and fill 2/3 of the way up. place one large soup spoon (silver ware spoon) of dough in the middle, 1/3 of the way up, from you. using the spoon, spread the dough across the bottom half of the husk using a firm, down ward swiping motion to adhere it to the husk. this technique can be tricky and the first few will suck, but no one will know once their rolled up!
now, place one tablespoon of filling in the center, spreading it out slightly leaving a bit of a border on the top and the bottom.
going left to right (or right to left i suppose) fold one side 3/4 of the way over, flatten the tamale just a bit and fold the other side over. it will be more of an oval than a log.
grab the flap and fold it towards the bottom. tear a strip from the extra husk you already tore off, and use it to gently tie up your tamale. viola! the cutest little dumpling your hands ever created! now for the other 63! to make a plain tamale, spread a slightly thicker layer of masa, roll up and presto! easy peasy.
mexican bundles of joy
once you get through 3/4 of them, bring as many pots with steamer baskets you can to a simmer. i tried dans grandmas method of filling the bottom of a pot with crumpled tinfoil, but i liked my steamer basket better. the method totally worked and we were able to steam 2 dozen at a time.
steam each batch of tamales for about 40 minutes or until puffed and firm. they will continue to firm up after cooling so unless you make extra large tamales this should be enough time. serve with lots of chile (post below), guac, and any other condiments you enjoy. for a more substantial meal, pair with a side of rice and some greens
to reheat, i recommend steaming them again as microwaves can make the texture tough and gummy. no beuno!
p.s. please unwrap your tamale before eating
worth the work!
rum makes it go by faster