Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Texas Tamales

I love layers to my food. Layers in texture and layers in flavor. This recipe is all about layers created by multiple flavors and textures. It begins with a hearty center of beautifully blended chicken and beef laced with jalapeno and cumin. Then a smoky kick of chili sauce dances on top before it's wrapped in a moist corn jacket that has been studded with fresh corn kernels. If that wasn’t enough to create a party on your taste buds, there is a dollop of Texas-style pecan and cilantro pesto on top. It truly is a journey to tamale heaven and I double dare you to drizzle some sour cream on top and a splash of your favorite salsa.

Texas Tamales
by Krisi
Inspired by Reata’s Tenderloin Tamales

Masa Filling

2 1/2 cups masa
3 cups fresh corn (about six ears, off the cob)
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup chicken broth
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon paprika

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer, process until well-blended. The consistency should resemble wet mud. To test the masa, drop a spoonful into a glass of cold water. If it floats you have the right amount shortening, if it sinks, add more shortening, one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition.

Cluck 'n Moo Filling

2 pounds Cluck 'n Moo Ground
1 onion, finely chopped
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground coriander

Add all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

Chile sauce

15 large dried chilies (such as Anaheim, Guajillo, Pasilla, Arbol)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 onion, sliced 
1 whole garlic bulb, cloves removed and peeled
1 Tablespoon kosher salt and more for seasoning

Remove tops of dried chilies and shake out seeds. Place chilies in stock pot and cover them with water. Add the cumin, sliced onion and garlic. Boil the chilies until soft, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chilies to a food processor along with a ladle full of the chili water. Puree the chilies until smooth. Pass the puree through a strainer to remove any remaining seeds and skins. Pour the chili sauce into a bowl and add salt to taste.

Pecan Mash
This is a spin on traditional pesto, Texas style. Pine nuts and basil have been replaced with Texas pecans and cilantro.

3/4 cups pecan pieces
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Combine the pecans, garlic, cilantro, cheese, jalapenos and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until pecans are coarse chopped. While the machine is running slowly add the remaining oil until it is completely incorporated. Season with salt and refrigerate until use.

To assemble tamales:

You will need 40 dried corn husks

Soak the corn husks in hot water until soft and pliable, about 1 to 2 hours. Place 2 corn husks end to end on your work surface with a 2-inch overlap in the center. Keep a bowl of ice water near your work surface, dip your fingers in it and then take 2 Tablespoons of the mesa mixture and place in the center of the husks. Spread the mesa to about 2 inches of the husks edges. Next add about 3 Tablespoons Cluck 'n Moo filling in the center of the mesa. Drizzle about 1/2 Tablespoon of chili sauce on the filling. Tightly roll up the husks lengthwise and tie the ends with strips of the softened husks. I like to soak extra corn husks and tear into 1/8-inch strips and use them to tie the ends of the tamales.

Place the tamales in a single layer on a steaming rack in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cooking them in batches may be necessary. Set the rack of tamales over 2 inches of boiling water. Cover the pot and steam the tamales for about 1 hour, adding water as needed to maintain the 2 inches (internal temperature should be 165°F.)

Remove from the pot and serve by splitting open the tamale lengthwise and adding a dollop of pecan mash.

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