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Tamales are a sign of celebration at holiday gatherings in Mexican households on both sides of the border, especially for occasions like Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner. Here we stuff them with creamy winter squash, black beans and tangy goat cheese.
Make Ahead Tip: The batter and filling will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Steamed tamales will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat tamales in a steamer or in the microwave on Medium power.
- 4 ounces dried cornhusks (see Ingredient Notes)
- For Batter:
- 1 3/4 cups masa (see Ingredient Notes)
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups quick-cooking grits or cornmeal
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
- For Filling:
- 20 ounces frounceen winter squash, thawed (about 2 cups)
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed
- 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- For Assembling Tamales:
- 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
Place cornhusks in a large bowl, cover with hot water and weight with a heavy plate or pan to completely submerge them. Let soak for 30 minutes.
For Batter: Put masa and 1 1/4 cups hot water in a large bowl; stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Beat ricotta, oil, baking powder and salt in another large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add grits (or cornmeal) and mix until combined. Add the ricotta mixture to the masa mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in broth 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is very moist and spreadable, but not runny.
For Filling: Place squash puree in a fine-mesh sieve and gently press on it to extract excess liquid. Transfer to a medium bowl and add beans, chiles and salt; stir until combined.
For Assembling Tamales: Drain the cornhusks and pat dry. Sort through and pick out 16 large, unblemished husks to use as wrappers. Cut about 2 dozen thin, long strips from the remaining husks to use as ties (or use kitchen string instead). Cover the husks and ties with a damp towel to keep moist.
Working on a clean surface, unfold one of the large cornhusks so it’s completely flat. Spread 1/3 cup of the batter in the center of the husk in a 4-inch square, leaving a wide border at the top and the bottom. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling in a thin strip down the length of the batter. Top the filling with 1 rounded teaspoon goat cheese.
Bring the two long sides of the cornhusk together, causing the batter to completely surround the filling—but don’t fold the sides over the tamale yet. Fold the cornhusk ends in, then fold the sides around the tamale. If a cornhusk splits while you’re folding the tamale, just wrap a second husk right over the first and finish rolling. Tie the tamale closed using a thin strip of cornhusk. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 15 more tamales. (You may have a little batter and/or filling left over).
To steam tamales: Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and loosely place the tamales upright in the basket. Cover and steam over medium heat for 1 hour. Check the water level periodically and add more boiling water if necessary. The tamales are done when the batter is firm and easily pulls away from the wrapper.
Cornhusks - These are traditionally used as tamale wrappers. They are sold dried and need to be reconstituted in water to make them pliable enough for tamales. You can find dried cornhusks in the produce department of most well-stocked supermarkets or Mexican grocers.
Masa - Masa is ground dried corn treated with lime, sometimes called masa harina or instant masa mix; it is used for making tamales and tortillas. Masa can be found near the cornmeal or flour in most well-stocked supermarkets or Mexican grocers.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
232 calories; 7g total fat; 3g total saturated fat; 10mg cholesterol; 612mg sodium; 35g carbohydrates; 4g fiber; 8g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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