Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sweet Potato Tamales

Texas is tamale country. I've eaten them my whole life and made them a few times as well. So, when a fellow cook suggested making a batch of “sweet” tamales with my Tropical Traditions coconut oil, I couldn't get past the idea. I was hooked. Immediately.

I’m not going to lie. These were a challenge. But, they were also pretty fun to play around with and the results were delicious! I've done all of the research and trials, now all that YOU have to do is give them a shot. But remember - they DO take some time and patience, even for the 15-20 that you will get out of this recipe. And by the way, the Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil (Tropical Traditions IS America’s source for coconut oil!) REALLY does make a huge difference in the final product. I played around with a local grocery store purchase before using the Tropical Traditions coconut oil, and it was apples and oranges! Yes, quality does count, and Tropical Traditions delivers!!! Get yours here: Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil.

It’s best to make your filling the day before you want to cook your tamales and then have all of your other ingredients ready to go the next morning. On cooking day, remove your filling from the refrigerator, gather your ingredients for the masa (the corn “batter” that you will use), and soak your corn husks while you make the batter. This is the quickest and easiest way to make the process run smoothly.

Also, before I get into the actual recipe…you can steam the tamales in whatever fashion you choose. You can also roll and tie them according to your preference. And the filling can be seasoned and spiced to your liking. My methods are just that - my preference. I would NOT change the masa, as that was the most difficult part. And, just to warn you, I steamed mine in a crock pot! It was fabulous! I elevated the tamales, put water in the bottom of the crock, and let them go for about 6 hours. More time, yes. But, if you've ever thought about making tamales on a July afternoon in Houston, you’ll see that I’m not so crazy after all! And they tasted GREAT!!! If you happen to enjoy the Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, please consider some of the other products that Tropical Traditions has to offer.

These are awesome alone, as a breakfast, a snack, an appetizer, or a dessert. You could also make a quick dipping sauce to go with them. My suggestions would be a chipotle honey butter sauce, a creamy cinnamon sauce, or a spicy avocado sauce, depending on your mood and the time of day! Very versatile and very good. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Tamales
by Chris

Overall, you will need:
Corn Husks
Steamer or crock pot with elevated surface (to keep tamales out of the small amount of water used to steam them)

For the Filling:
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup milk (I used 2%)
¾ cup hot water
1 ½ Tablespoon Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, skinless
1 Tablespoon brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon plus an extra dash of chipotle powder (to taste)
Dash of ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of pumpkin pie spice
3-4 dashes of chipotle sauce (I used Goya brand, which comes in a plastic bottle, much like ketchup. You could use the adobado sauce from canned chipotles, as well)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Taste and modify to your liking. Store in the refrigerator in a Tupperware container until ready to use. Mixture will need to be at room temperature in order to fill tamales.

For the Masa:
2/3 cup vegetable shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups masa harina (any brand will work)
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 cup coconut milk (regular, NOT light)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (more, if you like)
½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

With an electric mixer, beat the shortening until fluffy and light, around 1 minute. Add sugar and about half of the masa harina. Continue mixing until combined. Mix the milk and the coconut milk together, then alternate adding a large splash of the milk, then a bit of the masa harina. Do this several times, mixing after each addition, until you have a fairly thick batter that resembles cookie dough. Add the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and mix well (30 seconds-1 minute). Finally, add the coconut oil (it should be in liquid form. If necessary, microwave for a few seconds in order to warm it.) and incorporate well. Do not over mix!

Corn husks should be soaked in water for at least 30-45 minutes before you begin making your tamales. You will need about 30 husks for this recipe. It will produce around 20 tamales, but you will use torn strips of others in order to tie the tamales together. I place my husks in a large bowl of water and weigh them down with a small plate. This insures that all are held underwater and will be moist when needed.

To assemble the tamales:
Take a corn husk from the bowl and drain any excess water. Lay flat on a kitchen towel, with the largest end away from you. Place about a ping pong ball sized amount of masa on the upper portion of the husk. Flatten as much as possible. Layer about a Tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture in the middle of the masa. Then take about ½ a Tablespoon of masa and cover the filling. Now take the left side of the husk, wrap it tightly toward the center, and repeat with the right side. Pull the bottom corner up towards the top, and use a strip from another wet husk (tear them along the grain, in about ¼ inch strips) to secure. I had no problem leaving the tops of mine open, but some people prefer to fold the top down and secure as well. Place into your steamer or crock pot, open end up. Repeat as necessary until all of the masa has been used.

Steam as you would with any other tamales, but do note that these do not take quite as long to cook as meat-based tamales. If using the crock pot, add about ½” of water to the bottom, set to High, and cover for 2 hours. At the 2 hour mark, open quickly and add a bit more water. Do this every hour until the tamales have been cooking for 5-6 hours. At 4 or 5 hours, begin checking the tamales for doneness when adding water. When cooked through, remove tamales from crock and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.

1 comment:

  1. Tamales are not hard to make. They are just a tad labour intensive.