Tamales can be stuffed with veggies and beans, veggies and grain, with cheese added in with any of the ingredients or with chicken or meat. The seasoning is the key.
Your filling is what makes the tamale tasty so make sure you create something strong in flavor and extra delicious.
Often I will grab leftover rice and sauté it with onions, garlic, peppers and add a bit of chipotle powder and cilantro. It’s delicious and a great way to use up leftovers.
Tamales freeze beautifully and with the right ingredients these can be a one-pot meal.
To cook the tamales I like to steam them in a Chinese style bamboo steamer. If you are going to purchase one get a large 12” steamer, but make sure you have a pot it will fit on. The steamer should fit snugly on top of a pot, no excess steamer hanging off the sides.
Soak the cornhusks
8 dried cornhusks, available in Latino markets and online. Some people use banana leaves, which can be found in Asian markets.
Check the husks for dirt and clean them. Then soak the corn husks in hot water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Put a plate or pot lid on top of the husks to keep them submerged.
Next make your filling.
This is a simple filling with rice, veggies and pine nuts.
For more filling ideas go online to get hundreds of tamale filling recipes.
1 cup cooked rice
½ cup onion, small diced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
½ jalapeño or other hot pepper, minced
sea salt, to taste
chipotle powder, to taste
cayenne, to taste
1– 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or toasted and chopped walnuts
Water or vegetable stock if needed to soften the rice. If you’re using leftover rice this might be necessary.
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion, garlic, jalapeño or any other type of hot pepper a little sea salt and sauté for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the red pepper and cook until the vegetables become a little soft. Add a bit of sea salt and if needed just enough vegetable stock or water to prevent burning.
When the vegetables are soft add the cooked rice and season to taste with more salt if needed, cayenne and chipotle powder.
Turn off the heat and add the chopped cilantro and toasted pine nuts.
1 cup masa harina – not instant masa or cornmeal
¼ tsp sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon chile powder
1/2 cup Earth Balance organic spread or organic butter
1/3 cup Organic Vegetable Shortening
1 cup vegetable broth
Using a food processor, combine the masa harina with the Earth Balance or butter, vegetable shortening, salt and spices and mix well. While the machine is running, slowly add the broth until it is fully incorporated. The mixture should resemble a thick cake batter or peanut butter.
Make the tamales
Drain the corn husks and pat dry. Tear strips 1/4-inch wide from 2 of the husks for tying the tamales. Divide the tamale dough evenly between the husks and spread in the center, leaving 1-inch at each end uncovered. Place the rice mixture on top of the dough and roll the corn husks so that the filling is completely enclosed.
Twist and tie each end with the strips you have torn off.
Have a pot with hot water ready for steaming.
Place the tamales in the steamer basket and put the basket, covered on top of the pot of hot water.
Steam the tamales, covered for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, open an edge of one of the tamales; if the dough pulls away from the sides, the tamales are done. If you like, serve with salsa but I find the tamales are often tasty enough without a sauce.
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