Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Vegetarian Tamales

I made these fully expecting it to be difficult and fail miserably. Instead, what I ended up with was a pretty good approximation of authentic tamales. I used imitation chorizo sausage made from soybean that is available in supermarkets. You could of course, use the real thing. Leave yourself a couple of hours to prepare these the first time. Soak the cornhusks for a good hour prior to assembling tamales. Makes about 15 medium sized tamales.
You will need:

(for the dough)
-2 Cups Masa (Maseca brand has one specifically for tamales which works well).
-2 Cups lukewarm water to which 2 beef bouillon cubes(or if you prefer, real broth) have been dissolved.
-1 Teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup Crisco (again, you could use lard if inclined).

Combine masa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Work in broth with fingers to make a soft dough. You may need more flour. This is very difficult to explain but it should be soft, not sticky. What you do not want is a dry, stiff mixture. It should just come together in a ball. In another bowl, beat the shortening until light. Add to masa mixture and beat until spongy. Cover and set aside until ready to assemble tamales.

Other Ingredients:

-Corn husks( separated, and soaked in boiling water for a hour) Some people insist you can use coffee filters or kitchen parchment with equal success.
-Soy chorizo sausage (prepared according to package directions(usually crumbled in a frying pan).


Drain cornhusks. Fill each with a small bit of dough which is spread thinly. Top with a bit of chorizo sausage. Carefully roll them up sideways, and tuck the edges under. Don't worry if the filling isn't perfectly encased in dough, as the tamale will set anyway. Place in a large steamer in a pot of water(stand the vertically). Cover the steaming pot carefully with a thin kitchen towel taking care to tuck it in the pot away from flames. Keep replenishing water so that tamales stay at a boil. They will cook about an hour.

Tamales can also be re-heated by steaming or microwaving.