Tamales de Jamaica con Chipotle

I’ve attempted making red chile with jamaica once before, and it was an EPIC disaster.  Oh, lawdee lawd – so gross.
Then a few weeks back, there was an article in the NY Times about a vegan chef in LA, and how she makes carnitas and al pastor tacos using jackfruit and jamaica.  I ordered her cookbook then and there. (Check it out – she is forking brilliant!!)

I wanted a red chile style filling for tamales, and alas that recipe is not included – but her techniques are, so I cobbled together a few things and this turned out pretty tasty. This is one of those recipe in many steps – I did it over a couple days.  And, I gotta confess, I just bought the damn masa preparada – my local meximart makes a vegan one, and it is pretty good.  So, I boiled the jamaica one day (and used that for aqua fresca) and then stuck the cooked flowers in the fridge, and then got them out today to finish.

And – heads up!  I’m not going to go in to tamale fabrication steps here – the interwebs is chock full.  This is more about how to make that vegan filling. Just know that in all seriousness, if you were to cook these in the Instant pot, you could have home made fresh tamales ready in an hour.  No shit, bro. For reals.

Ingredients:

The Tamales
Corn husks, soaked in hot water and drained
Green olives – about 16
4# masa preparada para tamales

The Filling:
1 c. dried jamaica/hibiscus flowers that have been boiled and drained twice, then chopped. This will yield about 3 c. final product.
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ a 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, or one big red tomato, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ c. chipotles en adobo
½ c. prepared red chili paste (see the barbacoa post for the recipe – I make it in batches and freeze ½ c. portions in otter pop zippies in the freezer)
½ c. water
1 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano leaves
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. smoked paprika

Ok, in a saute pan cook the olive oil, garlic and tomato on medium-low for about ten minutes – until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is cooked. Puree that mix along with the chipotles en adobo.  Return that mix to the pan, and add the rest of the ingredients except the jamaica.  Simmer on medium about five minutes to let everything cook together.  While that’s going, coarsely chop the jamaica.  When the time’s up, stir the jamaica in to the red chile sauce and remove from the heat.  That’s it.  You’re ready to assemble.

Assemble and steam for about 45m. stove top (or follow the directions for your instant pot). And enjoy!

I got sixteen tamales out of this batch. But honestly, they started to get a little fat at the end there – so if I’d been more consistent I would have had 18 or 20. Try to make them all the same size, btw, so they cook evenly and are all done at the same time. My heavy-handedness cost me additional cooking time.
Either way, though, your reward is this:

OMG these are so good. And yes, indulgent – but we both commented on how they were not as heavy as the meat kind. Which is dangerous, because then maybe you think you can eat four in one sitting instead of just two.

Green Tamale Soup

Pretty simple set of ingredients
Pretty simple set of ingredients

We took a staycation the last week of the year, and I got a wild hair to make our own corn tortillas. “How hard could it be,” I thought. Turns out, fairly hard. As in, what are these? Frisbees? This left us with a five pound bag of masa in the pantry. What to do, what to do. Turns out it makes totally delicious corn bread, which is almost cakey in texture. It is also what is often used to thicken chicken tortilla soup – that ubiquitious, obstenisibly Mexican but really more of a gringo dish. Then I saw the bags of frozen roasted and peeled Hatch green chili in the freezer at Trader Joe’s , and a diabolical plot was born.
GTS4
I made a pot of this, and took some to work. A co-worker took a taste and said, “Hey! That tastes like green corn tamales!” Yeah, my work here is done.

Put some cubes of colby or mild cheddar in the bottom of the bowl and ladle this on top, and you will be in heaven. Even better, serve it with a cheese crisp. Just remember to taste your chiles – hot chiles mean spicy soup. If you are lucky enough to live near a Mexican supermarket that roasts green chiles in the late summer, they would be even better. I’d avoid the canned variety for this – the central flavor of this soup is the chile, and the canned varieties are so mild they would render a pot of tastelessness.
GTSb
This is super fast – start to slurp in under 40 minutes. Give it a try, you ‘ll be glad you did.

Green Tamale Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
¾ c. masa harina (instant corn masa)
3 celery stalks, chopped for soup
3 carrots, peeled & chopped for soup
1 fat zucchini, chopped for soup
½ medium white onion, diced
1 c. roasted and peeled Hatch green chili (fresh or frozen. NOT canned.)
1 c. frozen corn.
1 tsp. sugar (optional)

In a bowl, mix the masa with about a cup and half of the stock to make a paste (or a thick slurry.)
In a large soup pot, dump all the other ingredients. Turn the stove on high. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the masa slurry.
Simmer about 20-30 minutes, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Don’t put the heat too high or the masa will burn on the bottom of the pan. The longer cook time just means softer veg.
This is even better the next day. And, you could absolutely add some diced cooked chicken breast to this, if you wanted to boost the protein quotient.
GTS2
serves 4
calories 189
fat 1.1g
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 1214mg
carbs 34.9g
-fiber 4.6g
-sugars 7.3g
protein 11.5g