Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tamales, two ways

I cobbled this tamale recipe from several recipes I found on the internet. I was inspired by Sweet Simple Vegan's version of a vegetarian tamale. I made, of course, some simple changes - you know me, I can't help myself. I also used the Chicken Tamale recipe from Taste of Home as an inspiration. One of the things that you, too, can do is search around and put parts of one recipe together with parts of another one. That way, you'll have exactly what you want. In this case, I was looking for a tamale dough that didn't use lard or shortening. I also wanted dairy free fillings, one with a light meat and one without. Voila - or should I say - Aqui!


15 corn husks

for the tamale dough:

2 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic Masa Harina
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth, plus more if needed

for the chili and cheese filling:

1 small sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Anaheim chili peppers, seeded, and diced
up to 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup Vegan shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe's Mexican cheese blend)

for the chicken filling:

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, left whole, but crushed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Tbs chili powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp garlic salt
up to 1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth


Lime pieces
Avocado or Guacamole


1. Cover the corn husks with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for at least one hour. Make the fillings and the dough while the husks soften. After the husks are pliable, drain them, and cover with clean towels, so they don't dry out. Tear two of the husks into long strips, they will be used to tie the finished tamale.
2. Make the chicken filling first. If you decide not to make any chicken filling, you will need either some chicken or vegetable stock, about 4 cups total. I usually use Better than Bullion as a stock - I find it both delicious and affordable.

Cover the chicken thighs with water, adding the onion and garlic to the water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the chicken thighs are fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Remove the chicken from the water, strain the remaining solids from the water (now broth) and set aside. Shred the chicken.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, adding the flour, chili powder, red pepper, and garlic salt. Cook over low heat until the flour begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and a cup of the broth and cook until the chicken begins to fall apart, and the sauce is thick. Add more stock if the mixture gets too dry and begins to stick to the pan. Set aside.

3. To make the chili cheese filling, heat a skillet over medium low heat, adding the onion, garlic and Anaheim chilis. Add about 1/2 cup of broth and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add more broth as needed. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Set aside.

4. To make the dough, mix the Masa, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and broth. Mix until fully combined. The mixture should be spreadable - if it is too thick, add more stock and mix again.

5. To make the tamales, open a husk. Spread about two tablespoons of dough over the bottom 2/3, or large, end of the husk. Add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the dough. Fold one side of the tamale over, then the other side, and finally, fold the long unfilled portion over the top. Secure the tamale with one of the strips of husk. Continue making tamales until all of the filling and all of the dough is used up.

6. To cook the tamales, place them, open side up, in a steamer. Bring the water to a boil, and steam, covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the husk peels easily away from the dough. Serve with condiments of choice.

Makes about 12 tamales.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: There is a reason these are usually served at holidays and special occasions - they are labor intensive! They make up best with a crowd in the kitchen - each person making a filling or dough or putting it all together. A time to laugh and cook together and make special memories in the kitchen. 

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