Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vegetarian Black Bean Tamales

It had been bothering me for a while-could I make a vegetarian tamale that didn't rely on a meat-substitute like veggie chorizo? I'm pleased to say this not only worked, but made a really enjoyable filling that I could see serving to the meat eating crowd. As it does not rely on any soy-based substitutes, it is handy for people that have difficulty tolerating fake meats. Besides, black beans are much, much less expensive.

I didn't have any of the special Masa flour on hand specifically for tamales, so I used the regular kind which I normally reserve for pupusas (which I also made tonight). It worked just fine, and we couldn't discern any sort of difference. The other might be slightly finer, or have a leavening agent, but I honestly could not tell. I'm pleased about this, because keeping two different types of Masa on hand is a drag.

I don't cook with lard (and that wouldn't be vegetarian anyway) so I used solid vegetable shortening to make the tamale dough. I flavoured the water with a veggie broth cube, but obviously if you have the real thing on hand, use that.

I used a different brand of corn husks this time, and much to my surprise found a dead, dried bee between the layers. They are a natural product, and stuff happens, but that does reinforce the point that you really need to rinse these things well. Bonus points for anyone that remembers what Humphrey Bogart movie had an old drunk asking:
"Was you ever bit by a dead bee?"

You can find my pupusa recipe HERE.
You can find the tamale making instructions HERE
and the recipe for the black bean filling is as follows:

1 lb dried black beans sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight before cooking
4 bay leaves
cooking oil
6 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tin yellow hominy, drained, rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes in fresh water to remove more salt. Drain again before using.
Cooked beans
Reserved liquid plus water to total about a quart
Spice Mix:

4 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon powdered cocoa
4 tablespoons mild chili powder (use what you like-ancho, etc.)
2 teaspoons epazote
1 teaspoon dried, ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

In a large pot, cover the beans with water, add bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover about halfway. Cook several hours until very tender. Drain, reserving liquid.

In a large pot, cook the onions, carrots, and garlic in a generous glug of oil. Cook until the carrots are softening, but not soft. Stir in the spice mix and coat the vegetables well. Cook a few more minutes to let them absorb the spices. Add the beans, hominy, and about 21/2 cups of the reserved liquid. At this point, you start cooking the heck out of the beans. You'll want to keep an eye on them, as they can stick to the bottom of the pan as they cook down. As they do cook down, add more water/bean liquid and reduce again. You'll probably do this about three times, but you be the judge. Taste from time to time and add spices as needed, but go easy on the salt as I really think that is best adjusted at the end after it has reduced.

When you are satisfied with your beans, cool them and chill them while you soak your corn husks and make the masa.

You will have quite a bit of beans left, so serve some with pupusas and rice for a really knock-out meal.


Raymond said...

Oh*My*God*!! PAPUSAS!! Lordy I love those things. There's a Salvadorean restaurant nearby where a bud and I sometimes go for lunch. And in past years, there was my fav place for them back in San Fran. Of course, I also love the pickled cabbage stuff to go with it. Col, I think they call it (spanish word for cabbage).

Raymond said...

....ah! I just clicked the link to your Papusa recipe. Yep, of COURSE you'd have the "curtido" recipe too. Love it, love it!!!

Goody said...

It seems like the pupusas around here are fried and much, much larger. These are really very simple ones, but not so great if you're looking for massive amounts of cheese and oil.

*real* curtido is fermented for a few days at room temperature, but I just wouldn't dare.