I’m a tamal lover. I fell in love with tamales when they became unreachable (as often happens). Instead of missing them bleakly, I decided to learn how to prepare them. To my surprise is not as hard as I imagined (although is definitely a long process). Last spring my grandmother taught me her secrets to prepare the traditional huastec banana leave tamales, and later during the summer I ventured to create my own recipe using corn husks, I served them at a party and I’m very happy to say that I received rave reviews. I was inspired by Ricardo Muñoz Zurita’s recipe from the book ‘Verde en la Cocina Mexicana’ (green in the Mexican cuisine).
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Accompanied by a hot beverage, these tamales de rajas are perfect for the upcoming winter days. You can prepare a large batch and freeze them in small batches and store them on Ziploc bags in the freezer and then unfreeze whenever you crave them (like me!).
3 medium size poblano chiles
2 sweet red bell peppers
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tea spoon of cumin
3 cups of maseca (you can get it at whole foods)
4 oz/ 1 bar of butter
1 tea spoon baking powder
Herbal seasoning (I use herbamare asian blend)
3 cups of (vegetable or chicken) broth
17 oz (500 grams) of queso fresco cut into sticks
- Put poblano peppers on a skillet over high heat. Roast until the skin blisters and turns black
- After the skin turns black, place poblanos in a plastic bag, allow them to sweat for 5-8 minutes
- Let them cool, peel and discard the outer skin, remove the seeds and veins
- Slice into strips (that is what rajas stands for) and set aside
- Chop the onion and garlic, and slice the red peppers into strips, remove seeds and veins
- Heat up 2 or 3 spoons of vegetable oil, cook the onion and garlic until tender (5-8 min), add red bell pepper slices and after 5 minutes add the poblano stips
- Season to taste, add about 1 tea spoon of salt, herbal seasoning to taste and cumin
- Reduce the heat to low while you prepare the masa
- Beat the butter with the baking powder and 2 table spoons of salt and 2 table spoons of herbal seasoning until it looks like a meringue. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Mix the maseca and the buttery blend vigorously with your hands until completely combined.
- Pour the vegetable (or chicken) broth, and continue mixing, nothing better than to use your hands to squeeze and crush the crumbles.
- The consistency of the masa should be something similar to play dough. Neither to liquid nor to solid.
Prepare the corn husks
- Sink corn husks in boiling water to make them a little bit more flexible and easier to fold.
Prepare the stock pot
Before wrapping the tamales we need to prepare the stock pot. Put a steam racket at the bottom of the stock pot and add enough water to reach the level of the steam racket, seafood or lobster steamer will work. Cover the racket with corn husks and start placing the tamales in the stock pot as you assemble them.
Assembling the tamales
Corn husks look like a triangle, make sure that the narrow edge is closer to you while you assemble them
- Lay out the corn husk and put a handful of masa in the center of the husk and spread it with your wet palms. Is really important that you soak/wet your hands to spread the masa on the husk.
- Add about 2 table spoons of filling and a stick of cheese
- To wrap you need to take the two long sides of the husk and tuck one edge over the other and fold again and then fold the other two sides. If is hard to fold them, you can also use a string to keep them together. Place the tamales in layers and cover with corn husks when you have finished. Steam cook for approximately one hour.
Wait about 40 minutes before eating them
Makes about 20-25 (delicious) medium-small tamales.
Get creative, venture to create your own filling and let me know how it goes. Please leave your comments and recommend this post!