This recipe came about one Thanksgiving when I was playing around with ideas for a centerpiece holiday meal that didn't include a large formerly-alive winged creature or its facsimile made of tofu. These are fun to make with with a group (more fun when wine is involved) and somehow just feel kind of special.
I serve them with a spicy homemade mole sauce that has plenty of dried cherries added to it, but there is a wide array of sauces and salsa that would work just as well.
- 2 cups masa harina (if your masa mixture contains salt and baking powder, omit them below)
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 1/3 cups warm vegetable stock
- 1 cup butter (or a healthy vegan margarine)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced, pale parts only
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 1/2 cup cooked white beans
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 pureed chilpolte pepper in adobo sauce (or favorite hot sauce) to taste
- salt to taste
24 corn husks, plus extra for steaming and tying
1. Carefully separate husks and cover them with hot water—let soak for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and cook until leeks are soft. Gently stir in beans, 1/2 cup pumpkin, cheese, and add chilpolte and salt to taste. Let cool.
3. To make the dough: Mix masa harina in a bowl with enough warm stock to make a soft dough—be careful not to make it sticky.
4. Beat butter in a separate, large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add masa harina mixture and pumpkin puree to butter gradually, beating on medium speed and scraping sides as needed. Blend until well mixed and light in color. Stir in cinnamon and maple syrup.
5. Use 24 large husks to wrap tamales and reserve smaller husks to tear into strips for tying the ends of tamales and for lining the steamer.
6. Pat husks dry and place on work area, with narrow end at bottom. Place about 2 tablespoons of dough in the center of husk and spread into 4-inch square. Leave room around the edges for folding.
7. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough. Fold husk in half lengthwise, and wrap the other side around to enclose filling. Fold up bottom (the narrow end) of husk to cover the seam and tie a strip of husk around the tamale to hold it together. (The top can stay open.)
8. Add enough water to a rice cooker or stockpot with a steaming rack, to simmer for one hour.
9. Line steaming rack with extra husks and stand tamales upright with open end on top, in rack. Use extra husks (or crumpled foil) to help tamales stand straight if there is extra room. Cover tamales with extra husks to help steam.
10. Cover and steam over simmering heat, about one hour. Let tamales stand few minutes to cool before serving.