You’ll love this combination of roasted green chiles and luscious rich cheese. It’s amazing that all it takes is a great cheese and a great salsa to make a terrific tamale. This recipe can be split up by preparing the stuffing a day in advance.
Makes 12 to 16 tamales
1 pound ground masa for tamales
1/2 pound lard, clarified butter or vegetable shortening
4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded*
1/3 cup Tomatillo Salsa, see recipe
1 cup chicken stock, cold or at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons salt
Place the masa and lard or other shortening in separate containers in the freezer for 30 to 40 minutes, until cold but not frozen.
Combine the roasted poblanos and tomatillo salsa in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and set aside. Mix together the chicken stock, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
When the masa is cold enough, empty into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with a paddle. Beat on medium speed until the masa is light in texture, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the speed up to medium-high and drizzle in the chicken stock mixture.
Remove the lard or other fat from the freezer. Turn the mixer speed up to high, add 1 tablespoon of the fat at a time, making sure each spoonful is incorporated before making the next addition. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 15 minutes total. Test for lightness by dropping 1 tablespoon of masa into cold water: If it floats, the mixture is light enough. If not, continue beating at high speed a few minutes longer. Add the pureed chile mixture to the masa, and mix well to combine. Reserve at room temperature.
8 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced*
1/2 cup Tomatillo Salsa, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoon salt
3 packages dried corn husks, separated and soaked in hot water at least 2 hours or overnight
1 1/2 pounds panela cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
To make the stuffing, mix together the poblanos, 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa, and salt.
To make the tamales, spread 1 large or 2 small softened corn husks on a counter, with the narrow end pointing away from you. Leaving about 2 inches bare at the top, spread a 1/2-inch layer of masa over the center and one side of the husk. Divide the poblano mixture evenly and sprinkle over the portion of masa in the center of the husk. Top the chiles with some of the cubed cheese.
Fold the side covered with masa over the chiles and cheese, and then fold over the other side to enclose. Fold down the top flap. Place the folded tamale on a large square of aluminum foil and wrap to enclose. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Line a steamer or a pot fitted with a rack with corn husks. Cook over simmering water 45 minutes, or until the corn husks can be pulled away from the masa without sticking. Serve hot with Tomatillo Salsa.
Pozoles, more like stews than soups, are even heartier than caldos, thanks to the key starch ingredient of hominy, a form of corn. These heavy hitters are a whole meal – like a crunchy salad served over a thick meaty broth.
Serves 8 to 10
2 tablespoons lard, vegetable oil or chicken fat
2 medium onions, diced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups canned hominy, drained
4 cups Carnitas, see recipe
4 cups Tomatillo Salsa, see recipe
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
2 limes, cut into wedges
Melt the fat in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until golden brown and limp, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook briefly, just until the aroma is released.
Add the chicken stock, hominy and carnitas, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatillo salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the garnishes for sprinkling at the table.
Tortilla Soup is as easy to make as it is to love. All it takes is some leftover chips, salsa and chicken broth to make this wonderful, traditional soup. We like to go overboard when it comes to garnishing. Feel free to add diced avocado, a handful of your favorite grated cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and more crisp tortilla chips for that added bit of crunch at the end. Since Tortilla Soup thickens as it sits, you can always thin leftovers with additional stock or water.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups Red Tomato Salsa, see recipe below
7 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 dried chipotle chile, stemmed and seeded (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pounds fried tortilla chips
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crema, creme fraiche or sour cream
2 limes, cut into 4 wedges each
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until pale brown and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes longer.
Add the tomato salsa, chicken or vegetable stock, optional chipotle chile and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes. Stir in the fried tortilla chips and simmer 10 minutes longer, until the chips soften. Remove and discard the whole chipotle chile. Ladle into soup bowls and top each with cilantro, a few avocado chunks, a dollop of crema, creme fraiche or sour cream and a lime wedge. Serve hot.
Red Tomato Salsa
If you’re looking for an easy sauce to keep in the freezer for instant Mexican meals, this is the one. It provides the flavor base for such traditional dishes as tortilla soup, fideo, red rice, and chilaquiles, and can also be served as a sauce for strong, rich foods – like chiles rellenos – that call for something sturdy but not too assertive in the background.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large jalapeño chile, stemmed and sliced
4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Sauté onions with salt and pepper until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add tomatoes and tomato juice and puree until smooth.
Pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside to cool for table salsa or use warm for tortilla soup, red rice, or chilaquiles. Store in refrigerator 2 to 3 days or in freezer for weeks.
In these succulent Guatemalan tamales, fluffy masa is enriched with raisins, olives, chiles and a generous helping of romesco sauce. Soft, fragrant banana leaves, available in Latin markets, are the typical tamale wrapper in the southern Mexican states and Central America. Add shredded roasted chicken and these tamales would make a delightful holiday meal.
Makes 8 tamales
3 1/2 cups masa harina*
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups water, hot
10 ounces vegetable shortening (by weight), cold
1 cup vegetable broth, cold
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 poblano chiles, roasted, cored, seeded, and cut into strips**
2 red bell peppers, roasted, cored, seeded, and cut into strips**
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup pitted green olives, sliced
8 9-inch squares banana leaf, center stalk removed
8 10-inch squares aluminum foil
Romesco Sauce (see recipe below), for serving
Crema or crème fraiche, for serving (optional)
Combine masa harina, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with a paddle. Add hot water and beat on medium speed until the masa mixture is crumbly. Turn the speed up to medium-high and add shortening and vegetable broth a tablespoon at a time, alternating and making sure each spoonful is incorporated before making the next addition. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, about 15 minutes total. Test for lightless by dropping a tablespoon of masa into cold water. If it floats, mixture is light enough. If not, continue beating at high speed a few minutes longer. Reserve at room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add vegetable broth, raisins, poblano chiles, red bell peppers, and oregano and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in olives. Chill.
To assemble tamales, briefly hold each banana leaf square over a low burner to soften and toast. Place banana leaf squares, shiny side up, on top of aluminum foil squares. Spread a thin layer of masa over the center third of each banana leaf. Top with a heaping tablespoon of filling mixture. Fold over the sides and then the ends of the banana leaf to enclose the filling in the masa and then wrap in aluminum foil square.
Stack tamales in a steamer and cook over simmering water 1 hour, or until the masa is just set and pulls away from the banana leaves. Remove and discard the foil and open the tamales, leaving them in the banana leaves for serving. Top with Romesco Sauce and a drizzle of crema, if desired.
* Maseca, masa harina, or corn masa flour, is a dried, powder version of fresh masa. Fresh masa is a wet dough made from dried corn cooked in limewater, soaked overnight, and stoneground. If it is labeled “prepared”, it is combined with lard and other ingredients, but if you can find “unprepared” masa made with only lime-treated corn, it can be substituted for the masa harina and water in this recipe.
** Fresh chiles can be roasted over a gas flame or under the broiler. Keep turning so skin is evenly charred, without burning the flesh. Transfer charred chiles to a closed plastic bag and steam 10 to 15 minutes. Pull off charred skin by hand and dip briefly in water to remove blackened bits. Once peeled, cut away stems, seeds, and veins.
6 piquillo peppers, from a jar or can, about 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Add piquillo peppers, paprika, and vinegar to a blender and puree. Add almonds, bread crumbs, garlic, and salt and blend until smooth. With motor still running, drizzle in olive oil until a thick sauce forms. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve at room temperature.