This month’s challenge is to make tamales, a Mexican dish made up of a corn dough filled with deliciousness that is steamed in a corn husk.
I’m not sure if this has made me into a Hot Tamale Molly, but I think this is something I could have fun with!
I decided to stray from the suggested fillings (mostly meat-based) and make up a vegetarian version with some tofu and chopped roasted Poblano peppers. This would have also been great with a shrimp filling.
For me, the highlight had to be the salsa. I made a variation on my usual tomatillo and Poblano sauce, proving again and again that tomatillos and Poblanos are best friends that should be featured together regularly. Also, I need to make more of this salsa more regularly. I could eat it over anything!
This dish took a little bit of work to prepare. I enlisted J’s help assembling the tamales, to speed things up. I also realized, too late, that my Maseca was a little over the hill. I will make sure to throw out (ouch!) the rest of the Maseca to ensure I start with a fresh batch next time.
Considering the amount of work, I think next time I might make a couple of different fillings to mix things up a bit. I would also make at least twice as much of the salsa, so that there is enough to pour all over the tamales. I love that stuff!! I would also recommend serving these with some green and/or crunchy veggies on the side. The tamales are fairly starchy and a bit heavy, so some nice veggies would balance it out nicely.
Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!
Tofu and Poblano Tamales
modified from the challenge recipe, which is based on this recipe from epicurious.com.
- 1 – 8 ounce package dried corn husks (If you cannot find corn husks, you can use parchment paper or plastic wrap.)
- 1 pound tomatillos
- 4 – 3 inch Poblano peppers
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable preferred)
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 2/3 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable shortening
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (omit if already in masa mixture)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (omit if already in masa mixture)
- 4 cups masa harina (corn tortilla mix) (I used Maseca)
- Place the dried corn husks in a large pot and cover with water. Place a heavy plate or a smaller pot full of water on top of husks to keep them in the water. Let soak for 3 hours or up to 1 day, flipping occasionally until husks are softened.
- Roast tomatillos and Poblanos under the broiler until skins blacken. After cooling, add tomatillos, half of the Poblanos, garlic to food processor and purée until smooth. Chop the other half of the Poblanos and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to a medium sauce pan, and heat to medium-high. Add tomatillo puree and cook until thickened. Add 2 cups of the broth, bring up to a boil and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer until liquid reduces to about 2 cups.
- Meanwhile. press liquid out of a block of extra firm tofu. I pressed and grilled the tofu at the same time, using a panini press. You can press tofu by weighting a plate on top of it, to release some of the liquids. Pan-fry or grill with some spices (I used this incredible Tlalelolco rub from Epices de Cru). Add tofu to food processor and coarsely chop.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the tofu, chopped Poblanos, cilantro and 1 cup of the tomatillo salsa. This will be the tamale filling – set aside until it’s time to roll them.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium high speed, cream together the vegetable shortening, baking powder and salt. Mix in the masa harina, one cup at a time.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add in 1 ½ cups of the broth.
- The dough should be a cookie dough like texture. If the mixture seems too thick, add broth 2 tablespoons at a time.
- Take 3 large corn husks and tear them lengthwise, into ¼ inch strips. Put these back in the water until use, to prevent them from drying out and becoming brittle.
- Pour about 2 inches of water into the bottom of a large pot with a steamer attachment. Line the bottom of the steamer with corn husks.
- Unfold 2 corn husks onto a work surface. Take ¼ cup of dough and, starting near the top of the husk, press it out into a 4 inch square, leaving 2-3 inches at the bottom of the husk. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in a line down the center of the dough square.
- Fold the dough into the corn husk and wrap the husk around the dough.
- Fold up the skinny bottom part of the husk and secure it with one of the corn husk ties.
- Stand the tamales, open side up, in the steamer. If there aren’t enough tamales to tightly pack the steamer, place extra corn husks in the excess space.
- Steam the tamales for about 1 hour, or until the dough deepens in color and easily pulls away from the husk.
- Serve with some of the reserved tomatillo and Poblano salsa on top.