Fresh Corn Tamales


by Lynne Vea, PCC Natural Markets Chef

Posted on August 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 5 at 2:13 PM

(Makes enough for about 3 dozen small tamales)

For the Filling:
4 ears of corn, shucked, the husks reserved (you’ll need extra husks for the tamales)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped pasilla or jalapeno chile (roasted or fresh)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 cup Mexican Cheese, (Queso Fresco or Cotija)
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime juice to taste

Grill the shucked corn over hot coals, turning occasionally until lightly charred. Allow to cool and cut the kernels from the ear, scraping the cob to accumulate all of the juices.

Note: You may do this up to a day ahead.

In a heavy sauté pan, cook the onions until soft and lightly golden. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let cool slightly.

Add the pasillas, corn kernels, oregano, chipotle and the cheeses. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice.

For the Tamales:
2 pounds masa dough for tamales (recipe attached)
Husks from 5-6 ears of corn
Filling above

Lay the corn husk out, rough side down. If it’s a small husk, place two together, overlapping them a bit. Spread a rectangle of about 2-3 tablespoons  masa in the center of the husk (you may use your moistened fingers or the back of a spoon to do this) and place 1-2 tablespoons filling down the center. I like my masa to be relatively thin, so about 1/8 inch thickness works well. All of these measurements will depend on the size of the tamales you wish to make. Let good sense and a healthy dose of fun be your guide!

Fold the two longs sides of the husk towards the middle so that the masa forms a tube around the filling and wrap the husk around to form a cylinder.

Tie the tamales at each end of the filling with kitchen twine. (Or you may do it the traditional method by tearing off strips of corn husk and twisting them into small ropes.)

Steaming: There are many methods of steaming tamales. The classic steamer looks like a large pot with a perforated smaller insert which sits in the pot. You may devise one of these by placing a cake rack on inverted small ramekins in the bottom of a heavy pot with a lid. Fill the pot with water almost up to the level of the rack, but not touching the tamales. For smaller batches, a stacking bamboo steamer or an electric steamer work beautifully.

You may place the tamales in the pot or steamer standing upright or stack them by placing one layer facing one direction and the next at a 90 degree angle, etc. leaving space for steam to circulate around each. Place the lid on the pot/steamer and bring the water to a steady simmer. Watch the pot for water level and fill with water as needed. (I keep a pot of boiling water on the stove so I don’t lose temperature in my steamer.) Check for doneness at about 15 minutes for loosely packed tamales and about 45 minutes to an hour for more tightly packed. To tell if your tamales are done, peel the husk away. If it comes off smoothly and the masa is tender but firm, you tamal is done. If not, rewrap it and place it back in the steamer. Depending on the size of the tamales, and how closely they are packed it may take up to 60 minutes.