Friday, September 3, 2010

Squash and Poblano Pepper Tamales, an End of Summer Treat

These tamales are delicious. Oh yeah, and their vegan. That doesn't stop me from serving them with pride to carnivores and vegetarians alike. Maybe I will send along a recipe for tamales de carnitas soon, though.

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that is often made around Christmas and 3 Kings Day. Families will make hundreds of tamales and deliver them to friends and to those in need.

However, tamales are delicious all times of year. They are a great food to take on the road, and are high in protein (from the nixtamalized corn flour).

Seasonality: End of summer as squash, peppers and corn are all ripening
Beverage pairing: Nice cold Mexican lager, your choice

Vegetable Oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 squash (butternut, kabocha, delecata, whatever), peeled, seeded and chopped
Salt, Pepper
1 lime, juiced

-Heat a pot over medium high heat. Add a couple Tablespoons of vegetable oil and wait for that to heat up. Add the onions, garlic and poblano pepper to the oil and cook until they begin to soften. Add the squash and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot.
-Stir occasionally, replacing the lid each time. Cook until the squash is completely tender. and begins to mush and fall apart.
-Season with additional salt, pepper, cumin and lime juice.
-If you are making a bunch of tamales, you can double or triple the recipe.

1/2 Pound masa harina (Maseca is a common brand that can be found in almost any grocery store or bodega)
Chili Powder
1/2 Cup corn oil
2 Cups vegetable broth

-Season the corn flour with the spices. Then add the corn oil and fully incorporate it.
-Then add the broth.
-The texture should be similar to a thick peanut butter. If you need to adjust the texture, add more flour or broth.
-The recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger batches.

To assemble:
Corn Husks (Hojas de Mais)

-Soak the corn husks in luke warm water for 20 minutes.
-Make a 1/8" to 1/4" layer of Masa dough on one side of the husk, leaving 1" at the far edge.
-Place a small amount of filling (approx. 3 TBS) in the center of the dough, in a line.
-Roll the tamale up like a sushi roll or a cigar. Be sure to pinch it together slightly when one edge of the dough touches the other side. You want the dough to fuse together.
-Fold the bottom end of the corn husk up to seal it together.
-Place all of the tamales in a tall steamer with the folded end toward the bottom.
-Steam the tamales for 45 minutes, making sure that the water does not run out, burning the bottom of the pot.
-Remove the tamales, unwrap them, and slice them in pieces to taste.

HERE is a really cute you tube video of some little girls making tamales

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