I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Dora Stone of Dora’s Table at a food conference last year. Dora’s Table is a vegan Mexican recipe blog which provides delicious, easy and accessible recipes that appeal to the heart and stomach. She also shares my love of a helping people to live and sustain a healthy lifestyle. So of course I jumped at the chance to try out a recipe in her new, hot off the press, cookbook: Vegan Tamales Unwrapped.
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Now I will admit, up until a year ago, I had never even tried a tamale. And that only changed recently because of my love of joining lines 😳 There is a man with a little cart attached to his bicycle that shows up outside my local Trader Joe’s every now and again, one day there was quite the line building for whatever it was he was selling, so I joined it to buy some….the rest is history and I now have a slight obsession with tamales.
If you have ever made tamales before, you will know it is a bit of a process. Dora recommends having a bit of a tamale party to speed up the process, and make it a bit more fun. I made these potato adobo tamales with my two-year old while the older one was at preschool, and we had a blast. He loved licking the bowl with the masa in it (thanks to the coconut oil it was quite sweet), and luckily for me, he has a thing for spicy food too, so stealing spicy little peas covered in adobo became his mission.
The ingredients are pretty easy to find if you are close to a well-stocked grocery stores or a speciality latin store. However, if you are having trouble, everything can be found on amazon.
Along with the Potato Abobo Tamales, there are so many amazing sounding unique tamale recipes in this book (chocolate tamales anyone?), and I am seriously excited to try some more of them out. Dora does a great job of ‘holding your hand’ for the tamale making journey, and provides step-by-step photos of the whole process, leaving no room for error. Pop over to amazon and grab a copy for yourself, or someone you know who loves tamales!
A healthifed, vegan tamale stuffed with adobo spiced potatoes and peas. The perfect big batch cooking project to get the whole family involved
- 1 1/2 lbs Potatoes, peeled, cut into small dice
- 1 cup Peas. fresh or frozen
- 3 Ancho chiles, dry, deseeded
- 1 1/2 Pasilla chiles, dry, deseeded
- 2 Garlic, cloves
- 1/4 Onion, white
- 1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
- 1/2 tsp Oregano, ground
- 1 Clove, whole
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 cup Vinegar, white
- 1/2 cup Chile soaking liquid
- 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Shortening or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
- 4 cups Masa harina
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt, kosher
- 4 cups Vegetable stock or broth, warm
- 30 Corn husks
Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
To make the filling, place the diced potatoes in a medium pot with salted cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 6 min. or until the potatoes are slightly tender. When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the heat and pour the cup of peas into the water with the potatoes and let sit for 30 sec. Drain and set aside.
To make the adobo, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and drop them into the water. Turn heat down to the lowest setting and let the chiles sit in the water for 10 min. Remove the chiles from the water and place in blender. Reserve ½ cup of the chile soaking liquid. Add the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, white vinegar, and ½ cup of soaking liquid to the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the adobo on the cooked potatoes and peas, adjust seasoning, and mix well.
To make the dough, beat the vegetable shortening, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer, until it has doubled in size and is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the baking powder, salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the shortening.
Add half of the masa harina then add half of the vegetable stock. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina and vegetable stock. Beat at low speed, until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary, add more vegetable stock until you reach that consistency. Taste the dough, and add more salt if necessary. It should be a little bit salty.
For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
To set up your steamer, fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
To wrap the tamales, pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 - 4 inch square. Leave a border of at least 3/4 inch on each side of the square.
Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the filling, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
Place the tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the pot, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again. (see notes for pressure cooker instructions)
Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.
Serve with some salsa, or pop in the fridge until ready to use. They last in the fridge for about 5 days in an airtight container. Alternatively, pop into a ziplock bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months
If you would like to make these with fresh masa, replace the masa harina with 2 lbs. of fresh masa and reduce the vegetable stock to 3/4 cup. To substitute the vegetable shortening, you can use 8 oz. of coconut oil. For tamales without fat, use 8 oz of cooked, unsweetened pumpkin.
Pressure Cooker: I don't have a steamer, so I actually cooked mine in the Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker). I followed the steaming instructions, but placed the uncooked tamales on the trivet within the Instant Pot, and cooked at high pressure for 10 minutes with natural pressure release for 10 minutes. They were perfect.