Wednesday, April 13, 2011

¡Andale Tamale!

Hey folks! Just because you're so pretty and awesome, I made you a movie for today's blog post about TAMALES! I figured knowing how to fold is a pretty essential part of the process, and why not abuse my access to iMovie and add fancy scrolling fonts and a total voice over? You're welcome in advance for the next few minutes, it's truly a masterpiece.
Here are the recipes!


Get a bag of tamale corn husks, you can find these at a lot of convenience stores around Oakland or a Mexican specialty market. They're cheap and come with a whole bunch. Before starting your recipe, separate about half of them and put in a bowl of hot water. Immerse (might take persuading, I stacked mine with two heavy pots) until you're about to use 'em.

I bought a giant bag of masa harina flour at my local grocery store, it's huge, inexpensive and really fun to play around with. I then used a pretty standard tamale masa recipe, here's the one from Veganomicon that's just peachy:
4 c masa harina corn flour
4 c vegetable broth (I used Better Than Boullion - No Chicken Stock)
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c oil (Olive Oil)
salt to taste (I also added: chili powder, several cloves of minced garlic, fresh ground pepper and dried cilantro)

Once you've mixed all ingredients with a hand beater (or a really strong will) cover with a damp towel or seran wrap and let sit while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Prepared masa WILL go sour, so if it's going to be out for awhile, try and stick it in the fridge.

I made two fillings because tamales rule and I wanted a bunch of extra ones to freeze and enjoy later. Since you can pretty much go with any filling for the tamales and they'll still be bomb, I'm just going to post a rough outline for each of them. If you have any questions, let me know and I can be more specific. It's much more fun when making tamales to kinda go with the flow and invent something amazing. Especially if you're making vegan tamales since there are a million options that are all more fun than just shredded meat. (Blegh.)

Filling 1) "Chicken" chunk from Layonnas, 2 red bell peppers, 1 purple onion, 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 1/2 cup corn (frozen or fresh) and mole (I used a modified recipe out of the Doña Tomás cookbook that calls for a lot of specialty ingredients, but you can buy prepared mole at mexican markets. Double check the ingredients for vegan verification, make sure to get the traditional mole with cocoa).

Filling 2) Nopales (cactus), 1/2 yellow onion, 1/2 purple onion, black beans (canned and rinsed) tomatillo salsa (another modified Doña steal, but canned tomatillo salsa would probably work just fine) and 2 T sugar

A word about nopales: They're really yummy but kinda a pain (literally). If you buy the fresh planks you have to first cut off all of the spikes, which can lead to a little bit of a blood sacrifice. If you buy them canned, they are already so processed and marinated that they lose a lot of their original flavor. My favorite is to buy them fresh AND chopped at mexican markets. Look in the produce section, they're usually in a ziplock sandwich bag and remarkably affordable.

After making your filling, assemble them (direction in the video) then layer them folded-tail-side down in a tamale pot, or a covered pot with a steamer basket. Put a thin layer of corn husks over the little holes in the steamer basket/tamale basket so that the bottom layer of tamales don't get too wet. Make sure to keep the water level at a rolling boil, which will probably mean you'll have to add water sometime in the middle of cooking. It takes about 40 minutes (yeah right) to an hour and a half. Try not to peak for the first half an hour and when you do check on them, keep it short so too much steam doesn't escape.

Alrightie friends, that was super long and detailed, I hope you make delicious tamales! (And give me some!)

PS: I'm helluv sick and my Star Wars intro song isn't always that annoying... Well, yeah it is, but it's especially annoying when I can't breathe out of my nose. :D