Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Black Bean and Cheese Tamales

Last week's batch of pork tamales was super yummy and left me with lots of extra corn masa flour, so I decided to do it again, but with black beans and cheese this time. It turned out even yummier, IMO, and I'm getting more comfortable with folding them. This recipe makes just a dozen, but could easily be doubled.

A couple of hours ahead, start soaking 15-20 corn husks in hot water. Weigh them down with a bowl so they don't float up.

Take one cup of cooked black beans (or pintos, if you prefer) and season them with sauteed onion and Mexican spices (I used cumin and Mexican oregano, but you could certainly add chilies or chili powder). Let cool to room temp while you prepare the masa and cheese. 

Dice or shred 4 oz Monterey Jack, Colby Jack or Mild Cheddar. I prefer dicing because it's easier to wash a knife than a grater!

My Home Ec teacher from middle school would be SO PROUD that I remembered this next step!

Measure out 2/3 c shortening or lard of choice by the displacement method: Scoop into a 2 c or larger liquid measure that has 1 c water in it. 

When the water reaches the 1 2/3 c line, you've got 2/3 cup. You can use this method for other fats and even for peanut butter if it's not the runny kind. 

Pour off the water and melt the fat in a pan or in the microwave over medium-low heat. 
Mix up the dry ingredients in a large bowl: 2 c instant masa, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. 
Stir in 2 1/2 cups low-sodium or homemade veggie or chicken broth. You can start with a spoon, but it's good to just get your hands in there. 

If you don't have any broth, you can use water. You'll need to add a little extra salt and maybe some spices, though, so it's not bland. 

Pour in the melted shortening and mix in well with your hands. Knead for a minute or two.

Choose the widest corn husks. If you have two narrow ones, overlap them to make one tamal.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the masa (Spanish for dough) into the husk, spreading it 1/4 in thin. Top it with a spoonful of the bean mixture and a few pieces of cheese.

Fold one side up, covering much of the filling with the masa. (See below).

Repeat with the other side, forming the tamal. You can unfold it to peek, but then fold both sides over the top.

If the filling is peeking out a little, that's fine. If it's peeking out a lot, I might put a little "patch" of masa over it. 
Fold over one side, then the other, then fold the "tail" over. 

Optional: cut strips of extra husks to make ties to wrap around the tamales. If you're making two fillings, this can be helpful in distinguishing between the two when they're served. Besides, it's kinda cute. (See top picture).

Steam the tamales, open end up, in a large stock pot on a steamer rack or on a trivet in an electric pressure cooker.

60 min in the stock pot, checking periodically to make sure the water hasn't cooked off, or 40 minutes on steam in the electric pressure cooker with natural pressure release. 

This pic must be blurry because I was so excited to get them cooked!

Serve with your favorite cooked salsa, perhaps roasted tomato or tomatillo. 

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