Friday, May 13, 2005

Corn Tamales with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Corn Tamales with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa (Adapted from Mayo Clinic)

For the tamales

18 dried corn husks, plus extra for ties
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups masa harina
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons diced yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

For the salsa

1/4 cup chopped avocado
5 ounces tomatillos, husked, cleaned and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon seeded, minced jalapeno chile
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare the tamales

In a large bowl, add corn husks and cover with warm water - let sit until soften, at least 30 minutes. If you have an hour or two, the longer the husks soak, the easier they will be to work with. Drain, rinse well and pat the husks dry.

In a food processor, add 2 1/2 cups of the corn - pulse until coarsely puréed.

In a large bowl, stir together puréed corn, masa harina, lukewarm water, baking powder, salt and 3 tablespoons oil. Mix until well blended, using your hands if needed

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add peppers, onion and remaining 1/2 cup corn - cook until just tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper and remove from the heat.

In the center of a corn husk, add about 3 tablespoons of masa mixture into the center. Flatten masa with your hand and form a small well in the center. Add about 1 tablespoon of the cooked vegetables to the well. Bring the two long sides of the cornhusk together so the masa mixture will completely surround the filling - don’t fold the sides over the tamale yet. Fold the cornhusk ends in, then fold the sides around the tamale. Using a thin strip from the extra corn husks, tie the assembled tamale closed. Repeat process to make 18 tamales total.

Fill a large Dutch oven with about 1" of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and loosely place the tamales upright in the basket. Cover and steam for 1 hour - be sure to check the level of the water often and add more boiling water as necessary. To check for doneness, the inside batter should be firm and will easily pull away from the wrapper.

To prepare the salsa

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, gently toss together avocado, tomatillos, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and salt. Cover and chill until needed. Serve tamales with salsa.

Makes 6 servings.

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