Active time:3 hours
Total time:4 hours
Servings:12 to 15 (makes 24 to 30 tamales)
It’s important to have a delicious filling that can stand on its own. You will probably have leftover filling, which you can tuck into a warm corn tortilla and eat as a taco, torta or quesadilla, or serve alongside rice and beans.
The gift of tamales: A celebration of Mexican culture and community
Street-Style Mushroom Tamales
Storage: The steamed tamales can be well wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days; or frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat: Steam refrigerated tamales for about 20 minutes and frozen ones for about 45 minutes.
Where to Buy: Masa harina can be found at Latin markets, well-stocked supermarkets and online. Corn husks can be found at Latin markets and online. Mexican crema can be found at Latin markets and well-stocked supermarkets.
NOTES: For tamales, the longer and wider the corn husk, the better. Larger husks can found at Latin Markets. Look for generic husks rather than branded ones, if possible. Depending on the size of the husk, you may need to adjust the amount of masa and filling you use; you may be a little unsure with the first few tamales, but you will quickly get the hang of it. Should a husk have a crack or a tear, double-wrap the tamales to keep the filling from coming out.
You can tear a few long strips of corn husks and tie them around tamales for decoration or to indicate a different kind of filling.
The coin will let you know if the water level steaming the tamales has gotten too low. If you hear a metallic rattling sound, add more water, carefully pouring it between the tamales, and continue steaming as instructed above.
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For the corn husks and masa
- 30 to 36 dried long corn husks (see NOTES)
- 3 1/2 cups (480 grams/14 3/4 ounces) masa harina
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup (185 grams/6 1/2 ounces) vegetable shortening (may also use lard or unsalted butter)
- 3 1/4 cups (780 milliliters) vegetable broth (may substitute chicken broth)
- 1 pound (454 grams) ripe Roma tomatoes (4 to 5 medium)
- 4 ounces (115 grams) tomatillos (1 to 2), husked and rinsed
- 1 fresh jalapeño chile pepper, stemmed, or more to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 chile de arbol, stemmed, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
- 3/4 cup (30 grams) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (may substitute with vegan butter, such as Miyoko’s)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 pounds (908 grams) fresh mushrooms, such as baby bella, button or any of your choice, stemmed and thinly sliced
- Salsa Roja (see related recipes) or your favorite salsa
- Cooked beans (see related recipes)
- Mexican crema or sour cream
Soak the corn husks: In a very large bowl, soak the corn husks in very hot water for at least 10 minutes, or until soft and pliable; then pour off the water. While the corn husks are soaking, prepare the masa and filling. (You can do this well in advance; you can’t oversoak the husks.)
Make the masa: In a medium bowl, whisk together the masa harina, baking powder and salt until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening (or lard or butter) on high speed just to soften, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, add 1 tablespoon of the broth, and continue beating on high until very light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You may need to stop the mixer and scrape the bowl a couple of times to ensure the broth is incorporated.) Reduce the speed to low, and add a quarter each of the broth and masa harina mixture, mixing until well combined. Repeat another 3 times, stopping to scrape down the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. (Depending on the size of your bowl, you may need to stop the mixer to add the broth and masa.) Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the masa mixture looks fluffy and homogeneous, 6 to 8 minutes. To test if the masa filling is ready, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of it into a cup of ice water. If it floats, it is ready. If it sinks, beat for another 3 to 4 minutes to aerate further; set aside on the counter.
Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic. Cover with water, set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, maintaining a simmer and adjusting the heat as needed, until the tomatoes and tomatillos are mushy and the jalapeños soften and their color becomes more muted, 10 to 12 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender. Add the chile de árbol, onion, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and process until smooth.
Set a 12-inch or larger skillet or saucepan over high heat. (If you don’t have a large cooking vessel, you might need to work in batches.) Add the butter and oil, and once the butter melts and is bubbling, add the mushrooms and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid and then start to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Once the pan is almost dry, reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato-tomatillo sauce, stir to incorporate and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside; you should have about 4 cups.
Assemble the tamales: Working with one husk at a time, lay it out with the tapered end pointing toward you. Portion about 1/4 cup of the masa onto the husk and, using a spoon or offset spatula, spread it into a roughly 3-by-5-inch rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2 inch on the sides and at least 1 inch on the bottom. (It’s okay if your “rectangle” isn’t exact.) Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the masa. (If you’re working with narrower husks, use a little less masa and filling; if your husk is wider, use a little more of each.)
Pick up the two long sides of the husk, bring them together and gently shimmy them so that the masa encloses the filling — the dampness of the husk should help with this process. Fold the long sides of the husk together to one side and then wrap them both around the tamal in the same direction. Fold up the bottom section of the husk and, holding the folded bottom with one hand, firmly but gently squeeze the tamal and the filling inside it up and down the husk, so the filling is evenly distributed, but leaving a couple of inches on top unfilled. This will form a closed bottom while the top will be left open. Place the tamales vertically in a container, open side up, and repeat with the remaining masa and filling (see NOTES), periodically stirring the filling to redistribute the juices. If your workspace gets too wet, wipe it between the fillings.
Steam the tamales: Fill a large pot or tamalera with a few inches of water, add a coin to the bottom (see NOTES), and insert the steamer basket (it’s okay if the bottom is touching the water but it should not be submerged). Line the bottom of the basket with a few soaked husks, set the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer. Carefully place the prepared tamales as vertically as you can into the steamer with the open ends facing up. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in more husks, so the tamales will be snug and stay upright. Cover the tamales with a layer of the soaked husks, cover the pot with a lid and let the tamales steam for 1 hour. (If the husks are too tall for the pot, you can trim them with kitchen shears and then cover the pot. If the lid won’t close snugly, you can also flip the lid upside-down and place something heavy, such as a cast-iron skillet, on top.)
Turn off the heat and let the tamales rest in the steamer for 15 minutes. This will allow the masa to settle so the tamales will cleanly release from the husk. To test the tamales for doneness, unwrap one and see if it releases easily. If the masa sticks to the husk, return the steamer to medium heat, cover and check on the tamales at 5-minute increments. The finished tamales should stay warm for about 2 hours in the covered steamer.
Divide the tamales among plates and serve with the salsa, beans and/or crema or sour cream on the side.
Per serving (2 tamales), based on 15
Calories: 283; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 11 mg; Sodium: 277 mg; Carbohydrates: 29 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 5 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From James Beard award-winning television host and cookbook author Pati Jinich.
Tested by Anna Rodriguez and Olga Massov; email questions to [email protected].
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