this month's Recipes to Rival's theme was TAMALES. it's actually an item that i've had before and it's quite good.
Basic Tamale Recipe
by Chef Jason Wyrick of The Vegan Culinary Experience
Time to Prepare: 1 hour
12 cups of masa harina flour
10 cups of water or veggie stock (see below for some tasty stock options,
this amount may also vary depending on the type of masa you use)
1 tbsp. of salt
3 cups of vegetable shortening (Option: 2 cups of oil or margarine
instead of the shortening)
24 dried corn husks
Water to soak the husks
Option: 1 tbsp. of baking powder
1. Warm the stock. Combine the masa harina flour with the salt (and optional baking powder.) Stir the vegetable shortening rapidly until it is creamy.
2. Pour the stock into the masa mix and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Beat the moist masa mix into the shortening until you have a paste that will spread with a knife without breaking apart. You should end up with a semi-thick paste. If you do not have this, you can add more stock in 1/4 cup amounts to the mix until you have the right consistency.
3. To check the consistency, spread the masa on a corn husk and if it spreads easily while staying together, you have the right consistency.
Option: If you use oil instead of the shortening, add it to the dry masa and then add the stock to the masa.
4. Soak the corn husks for at least 2 minutes. (Some husks may still have the silks in them, make sure you remove them before using)
5. Spread masa paste over the top half of a corn husk (the top half is the wide half.) Spoon a line of your filling of choice in a line on one side of the masa paste. Roll the tamale from the filling side to the other side. You will end up with one half of the roll that has masa paste and one that does not. Fold the half that does not have the masa paste against the tamale, folding it in towards the flap of the roll.
6. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients.
7. Steam the tamales for 45 minutes. If you have a lot of tamales and a tall steamer, you can place the tamales vertically in the steamer.
please note that i quartered this recipe, i was not about to have a boat load of leftovers to eat.
for fillings, i got a little creative. i used grilled chicken doused in bbq sauce and a spinach concoction i made for my asian-inspired raviolis a few weeks ago that were hanging out in the freezer. i'd have to say that was my favorite filling. at the farmer's market i bought some salsa mix. i chopped up some cute cherry tomatoes, cilantro and mixed it all together to top off the tamales.
the main challenges for me were i could not for the life of me find corn husks or banana leaves, even when i hit the spanish and asian markets. i also do not have a steamer. i had to get creative with that.
on saturday, i went back to the asian market and found already made tamales which got me really excited. i grabbed the package, walked around the market till i found a spanish worker who spoke english and basically begged him to tell me where i could find corn husks, either in the market or the city of Baltimore. he said they didn't have any (i thought i was going to cry) but he said they had banana leaves (the tear ducts dried up immediately). he took me to the frozen section (which i had COMBED for 15 minutes) and hidden behind the frozen seafood were the banana leaves. i was THRILLED! FINALLY.
on sunday, i tackled the steamer issue. i put two round pans of water on the lowest level in the oven. that first batch came out kinda on the dry side. then i remembered i had a big frying pan, a big colander and a lid. i made a makeshift steamer that way. that batch came out the best. soft and moist, and i think i was much more comfortable with the whole rolling and putting stuffing/filling in etc.
what i learned:
~with perserverence, i am capable of finding the most random ingredients
~i still don't like food from that region of the continent
~my makeshift steamer can do the job, i'm not going to bother buying a fancy steamer
~banana leaves are awesome, reminds me of bánh tét.
i'm looking forward to next month's theme. whew, what a month!
For other entries, check out:
High on the Hog
A Good Appetite
Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness
won't you join the fun?