While this is a labor intensive recipe, and I’m all about the easy, it isn’t a very difficult dish to pull off. Besides, if you gather the whole Caveclan together for an assembly line when it comes time to actually fill and roll the tamales, it goes by very quickly. Plus, when you finally unwrap one and take a bite, you’ll forget about all the steps involved!
3 Cups Tamal (Instant Masa Mix)
3 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/3 Cups Vegetable Shortening
3/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
10 Ounces Mexican Melting Cheese – Shredded (I prefer Manchego or Oaxaca; can substitute Jack)
1/2 Cup Canned Chilies – Diced
1/2 Cup Salsa Verde
1 Package Hoja (Dried Corn Husks)
Cover the Hoja (corn husks) with cool water for 30-40 minutes. When thoroughly soaked, squeeze excess water out then place into a colander to allow rest of excess water to drip out. Do not let the husks dry completely – they must be moist and pliable when wrapping the tamales.
HINT: Place a heavy plate on top of the husks so that they stay completely submerged.
In the interim, place shredded cheese, diced chilies, and salsa verde into a medium mixing bowl and fold together until completely mixed.
NOTE: Believe it or not, now the real work begins! Gather your minions, if you can … or pop open the beverage of your choice and get ready to roll.
Place one of the large Hoja (husks) on a flat surface and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the masa (dough) onto it. Now, this is where some tamale veterans may cringe, but I have found that this next step makes things go much faster and smoother. Take a small piece of plastic wrap and place it over the masa. With your hand, smooth and spread the masa out evenly, leaving several inches from the bottom of the husk, a couple inches from the top and far edge, and less than an inch from the near edge. The masa layer should be about 1/4″ thick. Remove the plastic wrap and set aside to use again. Then, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the relleno (filling) into the center of the masa.
HINT: If your Hoja are on the smaller side, just overlap two of them by a few inches to make one big leaf. Use a rubber spatula to spread a little masa on the near edge of the bottom husk to act as “glue”.
This is where a history of being a Rastafarian, or a teenager in the 1960’s, comes in handy. Take the near side of the Hoja and fold it over the the far edge. With your fingertips, lightly press the edges of the masa down to seal in the relleno. Then, while holding down the far edge of the husk, push down and draw back the near edge of the husk an inch or two so that the filling forms a sealed tube, of sorts. Now, fold up the bottom (narrow) end of the Hoja, making sure it is snug up to the bottom of the filling. Finally, roll the entire thing away from you, over the remaining flap, and …
… BOOM! You have a tamale!! Most folks say tying up the open end of your tamale is optional. But, with cheese tamales, the relleno has a tendency to bubble out, especially if you haven’t sealed in the masa well on the top end. Tying them up with a strip of Hoja not only solves that problem, but it also make them look better!
Once you have formed all of your tamales, fill the bottom of a large steamer pot with water, place the steam insert into the bottom, and cover it with several Hoja leaves. Stack the finished tamales standing up in the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and cover the steamer, allowing the tamales to steam for about 30-35 minutes.
HINT: You’ll notice that the one tamale I didn’t tie up leaked out the top. Which is why I strongly urge you to give them the “50 Shades Of Grey” treatment.
When you think they are done, remove one to test. When it has cooled sufficiently, unwrap it and enjoy. If it has steamed sufficiently, remove the rest from the steamer. Serve with avocado, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, rice and beans … you name it! These also freeze very well for future use. Just re-steam them or nuke ’em in the microwave, once they have defrosted.
For those of you who are dedicated carnivores, don’t worry. I’ve posted the carne (meat) version of these tasty bundles right here!
Prep Time = 90 minutes
Cooking Time = 30-35 minutes
Makes 22-24 Tamales
©2015 Caution: Caveman Cooking/UHearMe, Inc. All rights reserved. This recipe originally appeared on the Caution: Caveman Cooking blog at http://cavemancooking.net authored by Caveman. This recipe may be shared and reprinted as long as this entire copyright message accompanies it.