Over the weekend, I got the cooking bug again- this time it was for tamales. Yes, tamales. They are not as hard as they seem, they just take some time and patience. I decided to fill them with refried beans, pieces of jalapeno, and of course Chihuahua cheese. I also threw together a side of salsa, because, really, tamales without salsa are just sad lonely things on your plate.
The salsa should be made first. It will need to cool so if you make it first it can hang out in the refrigerator while the tamales are being prepared. That is unless you have a little someone taste testing the salsa...
(Everyone has their own heat levels, mine is fairly high. The hotter the better and if I don't get hiccups, why bother eating it at all?)
5 Roma tomatoes- diced
1/2 bunch cilantro- cut up
1 small garlic bulb- finely diced
1/2 medium side read onion- finely diced
3 jalapenos- (seed 2 of them, leave the last one alone)- finely diced
pinch of adobe spice
pinch of black pepper
pinch of Cayenne
pinch of cumin
mix everything up, then puree 1/3 to 2/3 of the mixture (add the pureed portion back in with the remaining mix) and chill. (Once again, unless you have someone "tasting" it at this point. Once they are finished "tasting" it, then chill :))
Next, on to the tamales!!!
You will need the dried corn husks. I get them from a little store in my neighborhood- I am sure you can probably get them most places. You want the larger ones since the small ones are a pain to work with. I know, I was stuck with the small ones on this batch.
Soak these in water while you are preparing the other ingredients.
Really, you can put in whatever you desire. I chose the refried beans, jalapenos and cheese because that was what we had around.
1 can refried (vegetarian) beans
2 jalapenos (both seeded, but throw some of the seeds in anyway- like I said, no hiccups, no good!)
1/4 package of Chihuahua cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro- cut up with stems removed.
pinch chili powder
pinch adobo powder
pinch garlic powder
Mix those together and put aside for the moment. Don't worry about cooking the mixture. It will cook when you steam the tamale.
Next, the masa...
I cheat a bit here. There is a mix for the masa that can be found at most stores. It is called MaSeCa for Tamales. It works well.
4 cups MaSeCa mix
2 cups vegetable broth (or use a veg. bullion cube)
2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
11/3 cup of vegetable shortening- I use a palm version from Whole Foods
In a smaller bowl, whip the shortening until fluffy. Set aside
Then, in a larger bowl, combine the mix, salt and baking powder together. Add your water and broth and mix with your hands to make sure all is absorbed and evenly distributed. Then mix in the shortening.
Get your steamer started at this point.
Rolling the tamales:
Take your well soaked corn husks, dry each one off- I don't dry them well, just well enough so the masa sticks.
take one of the husks, grab enough masa to cover about 2/3 of the husk, spread it on beginning from the side you are going to roll until it is about 1/4 inch thick, leaving space at the top and bottom of the husk (so you can tie them off) and then add your filing to the middle of the masa. Roll from the masa side and make sure you form a seal with the masa so your filing doesn't escape. (It probably will on a couple, don't worry, those are for "tasting.") Tie each end with either kitchen tine or use your longer husks torn in strips as ties.
Place into steamer for approximately 45 minutes.
These do freeze well, that is, if you have any left after "tasting" them...