I’ve always thought that tamales were very time consuming and I’ve been intimidated by them. I used to tutor at risk kids at my church and one of the moms sold her own homemade tamales to us. They were amazing! But she would show us blisters she got from mixing the dough, and tell stories of how long she spent in the kitchen. Maybe she was just telling us this to keep her business booming and scare us from trying it ourselves? Because if I had known how easy it was to put these together I would have done so a long time ago!
Now, easy and quick are two different things. These are not fast. But they are simple, and there is a lot of hands off time. They are great to make once you are home for the afternoon. One way I saved time is by mixing my “filling” right into the dough. This is a technique I saw this summer at my local farmers’ market. Rather than a traditional filling surrounded by corn masa, the filling is mixed right in. It saves time, and you don’t have to worry about filling oozing out of the sides.
Not sure of how I would like these, I didn’t invest in any new equipment. I just rigged a roasting rack on top of a large sautee pan that is oven proof. When it came time to steam, I covered well with foil. Ideally you will have a rectangular roasting pan with rack to fit, but if you don’t, don’t worry about it. This worked just fine, and I’m debating about whether or not I need to bother with something fancy for next time!
I topped these with some quick homemade salsa. Your favorite salsa will be great, but its so easy to make a fresh one at home, so give it a try if you have a few extra minutes (and I really mean a few!). The best part…tamales freeze well…you could make a huge batch and freeze half for a cold, rainy day when you don’t have the time or energy to cook! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!
- 2 c black beans
- 1 c corn (fresh or frozen)
- ½ c bell pepper (I used orange for color and variety!)
- ½ c green onions
- ¼ c packed cilantro
- 4 cups masa ?(I used Bob’s Red Mill which avoids GMO corn)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 cup coconut oil, melted
- juice of 3 limes + water to equal 3 c (my limes yielded ¾ c juice + 2 ¼ c water)
- dried corn husks
- Soak 20 corn husks (plus a few extra in case of rips) in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. Drain and quickly rinse. Set aside.
- Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix masa, baking powder, salt and cumin in large bowl.
- Gently warm coconut oil in microwave until it is melted (don’t heat for too long though, you just want it to be melted). Pour coconut oil over masa mixture and stir well. Once well combined, add water and lime juice mixture. It will seem like there is no way that the masa mixture can absorb all of the water, but it will surprise you! Once combined, add all of the filling and stir again until well combined.
- Set up an assembly line now. You want to have your corn husks, your masa mixture, a work surface, and a rack to steam on. Carefully unfold one corn husk (they will be more pliable once soaked, but still fragile). It will be sort of triangular in shape. I started with the point towards me. I scooped ⅓ c masa mixture and placed it in the center of my husk, and shaped it slightly with my hands to form more of a rectangular log. Then fold up the bottom, take one side and pull it over the top, then take the other side and pull it over to overlap. Place seam side down on your rack. Done! How easy was that? You could tie them with a strip of leftover husk but I didn’t have any trouble with mine staying together. They do look pretty with the tie though. You can tie in the middle, or if your husk isn’t long enough, tie at the open top. Now, repeat 19 more times!
- I had to steam mine in two batches because I couldn’t fit them all on my rack. I did end up stacking a couple at the end to prevent a third steaming and it seemed fine. I wouldn’t stack all 20 in at once unless you had a really big roasting rack, but you can be the judge of how it fits!
- Cover tightly with foil to trap steam in.
- Place in oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack without opening the foil. Let them continue cooking in the residual steam for 15-20 more minutes. Carefully remove foil, watching out for steam. You can plate these wrapped in the husks, or remove the husks. Once open, smother with salsa and devour!