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Only quantities of ingredients are changed; recipe Directions below will not reflect those changes.


  • 30 - Dried Corn Husks
  • 1 - Pasilla Chili
  • 2 - Tomatoes
  • 1 - Waxy Potato
  • 1/2 - Chayote, halved lengthwise
  • 1 ears - Fresh Corn
  • 2 tablespoons - Olive Oil
  • 1/2 - Yellow Onion, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 - Zucchini, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • - Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups - Masa Harina
  • 1 1/3 cups - Vegetable Shortening
  • 5 cups - Chicken Broth
  • 1 teaspoons - Achiote Paste
  • 8 ounces - Queso Fresco, crumbled
  • - Mexican Crema and Fresh Salsa, for serving
  • Directions:

    1. If using corn husks, rinse and soak them in a pot of hot water, taking care that all edges are submerged. If using banana leaves, wash them. If leaves are stiff, soften them by briefly passing them over the burner to warm up.

    2. Roast chili and tomatoes under broiler, turning them until all sides are charred and flesh is tender. Transfer chili to a sealed plastic bag to steam. Set tomatoes aside until cool enough to handle.

    3. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add potato. Boil 5 minutes, then add chayote and corn. Continue boiling 2 more minutes. Spoon vegetables from water, drain and set aside to cool.

    4. Peel skin from chili, remove and discard seeds and stem and cut flesh into ½-inch pieces. Peel tomatoes and crush them in a bowl using your fingers, discarding tough stem base.

    5. Once vegetables are cool, remove seedy center from chayote and dice chayote flesh into ¼- to ½-inch pieces. Dice potato into eighths. Cut corn kernels from cob.

    6. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they begin to soften, 4-5 minutes. Add diced potato, zucchini and chayote and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add corn. Cook 2 minutes more, then season with salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat and mix in roasted chili and tomatoes.

    7. Prepare masa: Using a mixer, beat together masa harina, shortening, 1 teaspoon salt and 4 cups broth until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.

    8. Prepare achiote sauce: In a blender, combine achiote paste, remaining broth and ¼ cup prepared masa and blend until smooth. Pour sauce into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (This should yield about 1 cup of sauce.)

    9. Assemble tamales: Spread approximately 1/3 cup masa onto a softened corn husk (or banana leaf), forming a rectangle about 4-by-5 inches. Keeping ingredients in a vertical line in the center of the masa, top masa with 2 tablespoons vegetable filling, 1½ teaspoons crumbled queso fresco and 2 teaspoons achiote sauce. Fold husk in half, left edge over right, so the masa itself folds in half, surrounding the filling and covering the vegetables. (Some sauce may leak out: This is OK.)

    10. To seal, fold the loose end of the wrapper, now on the right-hand side, 1 inch back over the left-hand side. Then repeat so the edge is folded over twice and lying snug against the body of the tamale. Next, fold the open top and bottom end edges of the wrapper in toward the center. (The package will now be nearly square.) Lay the tamale flat in a steamer, edge-side down so that the weight holds the wrapper closed. (If the tamale still springs open, tear one of the extra banana leaves or corn husks into strips and use the strips to tie the packages shut.)

    11. Continue process until you have used all the filling and masa. (This should yield approximately 20 tamales.) Steam tamales over medium heat until masa is firm and pulls away cleanly from the wrapper, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly before serving. Top with crema, fresh salsa and any remaining queso fresco.

    Brief Description

    Festive meal for any occasion

    Main Ingredient:


    Category:  Vegetarian

    Cuisine:  Mexican

    Prep Time: 1 hour(s)
    Cook Time: 1 hour(s)


    WSJ Off Duty, 9/22/2012, by Georgia Freedman

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    Posted On:

    September 23, 2012

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