Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vegetarian Corn and Black Bean Tamales Recipe

Day 4.

It's Tamale Tuesday! Hooray! To help in menu planning, I sometimes try to assign a certain type of meal to the days of the week. Taco Tuesday is one I loosely stick to, simply meaning I do something Mexican on Tuesdays. This week, I'm making tamales. Tamales seem a little daunting. I've had corn husks for nearly a year because I keep putting this off. But they're so good, it has to be worth it. I hope. The recipe is vegan by the way. This was sort of accidental. It just didn't happen to call for any dairy. Hoorah for the vegan readers!

Corn and Black Bean Tamale with Orange Cranberry Sauce
Basic Tamale Dough
Makes 12 Tamales
2 C Masa Harina
2 C Boiling Water
11 Tbsp. vegetable shortening chilled
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 C vegetable broth/stock, chilled

In a mixer with paddle attachment mix the Masa Harina, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add the boiling water in a steady stream to the mixing bowl while the mixer is on medium speed. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. Continue to mix for five minutes.

Transfer the dough ball to a clean bowl and refrigerate the dough for one hour.

Returning the dough to the mixer, beat the dough on medium to high for five more minutes.

With the mixer running add the vegetable shortening 2 Tbsp. at a time and mix well with each addition until the entire shortening amount has been added and the mixture is smooth. Combine the salt baking powder and chilled veggie stock, slowing adding the mixture to the dough while the mixer is running. Mix until thoroughly combined.

The Corn Husk
Soak the Corn Husk in warm water about 30 minutes.
Take the Corn Husk from the water and place it on a towel then pat the Husk dry.
Tear enough strips of husk to tie the tamales.

Corn & Black Bean Tamale Filling
Makes Filling for 12 Tamales
2 C Black beans
1 C Corn
1/2 tsp. "Bacon" salt
(option) replace 1 C beans with 1 C ground "beef," cooked
1 1/2 cups of Chili Sauce (recipe follows)

In a skillet add the beef, bacon salt, corn and black beans.

Add 1 1/2 cups of Chili Sauce and mix well. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has been reduced. I did not get to the store to buy the chili pods, and I was making this for myself and the toddler, so I opted to do 1 tsp. of chili oil and 1 C of salsa instead of the chili sauce. It was still good.

The Chili Sauce
6 Cascabel/Guajillo Chili Pods ( These are the dried long red chili that you can find in most super markets)
4 cups warm water
Take the stem off and remove all the seeds
Soak the chili in warm water for about 15 minutes, then pour the chili and the water into the blender.
Blend until the sauce becomes thick.

The Cranberry Orange Sauce
11/2 C whole cranberry sauce
1 C Mandarin Oranges chopped and drained
1/4 C brown sugar
1/3 C pecans
4 Tbsp. of the Cascabel/Guajillo Chili Sauce (recipe above)
1/3 C chopped fresh cilantro
Mix well and bring to a simmer. Serve warm

I actually skipped making this sauce, though it looks delicious, and substituted the disastrous Cranberry-BBQ Sauce mixed with about 1/2 can diced tomatoes (undrained) and the brown sugar and pecans. I am a big believer in salvaging what you can from your epic failures. I took the meatballs out and froze them, then I salvaged the sauce for this dish. But then again, I had enchilada sauce as a backup, just in case it was still bad. Here's the original Best Cranberry Sauce Ever recipe if you'd like to substitute that for the "whole cranberry sauce" and Mandarin oranges here.

Assemble The Tamale
Spread the dry Corn Husk with a fairly thin layer of the masa dough. Place about 1 Tbsp. of the filling down the center of the masa dough. Roll the tamale and tie the tamale with a strip of corn husk.

Steam the Tamale in a steamer for 1 hour. Make sure the lid to your steamer is tight. I don't have a steamer, at least not a separate one. Mainly that's because I don't steam a whole lot and Alton Brown told me to use multi-taskers in my kitchen. So, I had the option of the on the stove steamer insert for a pasta pot or the steamer insert in my rice cooker. I chose the rice cooker because the lid is a lot tighter. It worked great! Remove the Tamale and let them dry on a cookie sheet for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve the Corn & Black Bean Tamale with the Cranberry Sauce with a garnish of cilantro. I put the sauce on the side for serving and also offered an enchilada-type sauce for those who didn't want the festive cranberry sauce.

Original recipe can be found in Miz Helen's Cottage.

The Results
OK, this was so not as bad as I expected as far as difficulty for the recipe. If the baby hadn't started crying during the tamale-rolling, it would've gone great. As it was, I messed up somewhere or another or my corn husks were just too small. I ended up with about 3/4 C of leftover dough even though I made about 15 tamales. If I'd wanted to wait on more husks to soak, I could've made a few more tamales. Instead, I put the dough in the fridge and threw the 3 or 4 Tbsp. of filling into the cranberry sauce. But oh my goodness, they were yummy. I did a little experimentation here and made half with "bacon-salted" meat and half with just the bean and corn blend. They were both good. I think I may use my leftover dough to try another experiment with the "grain-meat" chorizo sausage. The sauce was even pretty good. Though if you didn't have a kitchen disaster to clean up, I'd bet Miz Helen's sauce is better. Mine's a little too sweet, I preferred my tamales plain or with salsa. Maybe it's just too far past Christmas for cranberry sauce tamales. But boy were they good. Definitely worth the work, which was not nearly as bad as I'd built it up to be.

I made Tamales for "Taco Tuesday." Do you have any themes to help you menu plan? Maybe Italian on Thursdays and Asian food on Saturdays? Let me know what you do to help menu plan, or just for fun each week!

This post is inked at Real Food WednesdayWorks for me WednesdayWhat's on your Plate?No Whine Wednesday, Gold Star WednesdayUltimate Recipe Swap Thursday, Recipe Swap ThursdayFriday Favorites and Recipes I can't Wait to Try.
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  1. Hi Kristi,
    You did a great job with my Christmas Eve Tamales. I was very pleased with your conversion.Tamales really are a lot of fun to make. Hope you have a great week!

  2. Hi Kristi! Thanks for stopping by today! I am your new follower too! :) These tamales sounds delicious. My mom has a lot of friend from Mexico who make delicious tamales, so I am definitely going to give this a try. Will let you know how they turn out!

  3. If it is Tamale Tuesday, does that mean you'll make them every week? I made some for the first time on Thanksgiving but they seemed pretty time consuming. These sound delicious!

  4. I wish! But no, it's really Mexican Tuesday, Tamale Tuesday just sounds more exciting! Arriba! Arriba!

  5. Serious?!?! love tamales and it seems that everyone who knows how to make it keeps it as a secret. I'm so glad you shared. I'll have to give this a try. Now if only I can find someone to teach me how to make Papusas (I'm not sure how to spell that).

  6. My mother always made tamales...but with beef. These look so yummy -- love the cranberry sauce too. Joni

  7. They are delicious. If you eat meat, you could always put that in instead. Or try this for a Meatless Monday meal. Hmm. Papusas. Oh! (I looked it up)...I'll have to try those, too. Little masa pockets. Yum. Maybe I'll do those on one of my original recipes days. It would make a great "pocket" to stuff leftover meat and veggies into it seems. Thanks!

  8. These look delicious!!! I love that it's done with black beans. Thank you so much for linking up on Recipes I Can't Wait to Try!

  9. http://athomewithhaley.blogspot.com/2011/01/recipes-i-cant-wait-to-try-12.html =)

  10. Sounds like a great recipe! Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites!