Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Squash, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales

Squash, Black Bean and Goat Cheese TamalesSquash, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales (Adapted from Eating Well)

For the wrappers

4 ounces dried cornhusks

For the batter

1 3/4 cups masa
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups quick-cooking grits
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable broth

For the filling

2 cups pureed winter squash
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
4 ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

To prepare the wrappers

In a large bowl, add cornhusks and add enough hot water to cover - place a heavy plate or pan on top to keep the husks completely submerged. Let soak at least 45 minutes or up to 2 hours.

To make the batter

In a large bowl, stir together masa and 1 1/4 cups hot water until a soft dough forms.

In a mixing bowl, beat together ricotta, oil, baking powder and salt until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low - slowly add grits and mix until combined. Add mixture to the masa and stir until smooth and combined. Add broth, 1/4 cup at a time, until the batter is very moist and spreadable, but not runny.

To make the filling

Place squash puree in a cheesecloth-lined bowl or in a fine-mesh sieve - gently press on it to extract any excess liquid. Scoop the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in beans, chiles and salt.

To assemble the tamales

Thoroughly drain the cornhusks and pat dry. Pick out 16 large, unblemished husks to use as wrappers. From the remaining husks, cut about 2 dozen thin, long strips to use as ties to hold the tamales shut. Cover the husks and ties with a damp towel to keep from drying out.

Unfold one of the large cornhusks - you want it completely flat. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the batter into the center of the husk and spread it out to make a rough 4" square - be sure to leave a wide border at the top and the bottom. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling in a thin strip down the length of the batter. Top the filling with 1 rounded teaspoon goat cheese.

Bring the two long sides of the cornhusk together so the batter 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. Use the thin strips of cornhusk you make to tie the tamale closed. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 15 more tamales.

To finish the tamales

Fill a large Dutch oven with about 1 inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and loosely place the tamales upright in the basket. Cover and steam over medium heat 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.

Makes 16 tamales.

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