Tamales - in the Slow Cooker....... I even have the recipe to share.
Tomatillo and Tomato Tamales
Makes 18 to 20 Tamales
You steam tamales on the stovetop, right? So why not steam them in the slow cooker! That was my thinking anyway, so I had to give it a try. It’s a bit of an epic recipe, and the active hands-on stuff does take a while, so choose a day when you have time to commit!
The smart ones amongst you (all of you then) will have noticed that the filling actually contains more potato than either tomatillo or tomato, but for purposes of clever recipe naming and alliteration I have chosen to ignore that fact. In case you were wondering.
I have tried to match quantities so you’re not left with anything remaining, but you may be as I would prefer that you be left with filling (which you can enjoy straight off a spoon) than not have enough for all your tamales.
You’ve been asked to soak more corn husks than you need, just in case some rip by accident, and some to rip into long thin strips to use to tie the tamales.
Start the corn husks soaking before you do any vegetable chopping so they soak as long as possible.
For best time management, once the corn husks are soaking, chop the onions and garlic while the tomatillos and chiles are roasting, then chop the potatoes while the onion sautés, then start the masa dough while the potatoes cook.
If preferred you can make the filling in advance and hold in the fridge until another day when you are making the tamales.
Use kitchen twine instead of corn husk strips to tie the tamales if you prefer.
Serve with Simple Tomato Sauce (page 000) if you like a sauce with your tamales, or just some hot sauce (or salsa) on the side if that is what you prefer.
Once cooked and cooled (in the husks) freeze the tamales in a single layer, then bag into meal portions for quick reheated suppers “on the go”. Microwave, from frozen, for about 4 minutes on high to reheat.
35 large corn husks, 1 per tamale, with spares, liners, and to make ties (2 ties per tamale)
6-ounces Tomatillos, 6 to 8 medium, washed and peeled, then halved
2 Serrano Chile Peppers, halved and seeded, see Notes
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped peeled White Potato, 2 medium, about 10-ounces
½ teaspoon Salt
2 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Masa Dough –
¾ cup vegan Shortening
¼ cup soft Coconut Oil, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
3 cups Masa Harina, see Notes
2 ½ cups warm Vegetable Stock
Prepare the Corn Husks –
Sort through the corn husks removing any debris, and dirt. Ensure you have large ones for easy wrapping.
Soak the husks by placing into a large bowl, then covering with warm water. Set a heavy item on top of the husks to keep them submerged until ready to use.
The husks are ready to use when soft and pliable, which will be right about when you are ready for them if you start the soaking before any preparation.
Peel some of the husks into ¼- to ½-inch wide strips to use as ties, as required. You’ll need 2 ties per tamale.
Prepare the Filling –
Combine the tomatillos and chile peppers on a large parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet, all cut sides down.
Broil until the skins are charred and juice is bursting out, about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool to the touch, then peel off blackened skins. Mince the chile peppers and roughly chop the tomatillos.
While the tomatillos are roasting, heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and allow to sizzle.
Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 5 minutes.
Add the finely chopped potatoes and salt, then sauté for 5 minutes prior to adding the roasted tomatillos, chiles, and about 2 tablespoons water. Sauté until potato is completely tender, and the liquid has reduced, 20 to 25 minutes. The potato and onion will be slightly caramelized.
Add the tomato and stir to well combine. The mixture will look thick. Taste and season as required.
Stand while you prepare the dough.
Prepare the Dough –
In a large bowl cream the shortening and coconut oil until light and fluffy. The more you cream the better texture your tamales will have. Microwave to soften the coconut oil in 10 second bursts if your oil is too firm to cream.
Add the spices and salt to the fat and cream until well combined.
In another bowl mix the masa with the warm stock, and mix well to ensure there are no lumps.
Transfer the masa mix to the bowl with the creamed fat, and beat until very well combined. The dough should be smooth, yet light, and very well combined. It will look and feel a little like smooth mashed potato, or play-dough.
Cover the prepared masa with a damp kitchen towel, or a soaked corn husk to stop if from drying out while not in use.
Prepare your work station for making the tamales -
Place a collapsible vegetable steamer basket in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add ¾ cup water to the bottom of the slow cooker, enough so it just reaches the level of the bottom of the basket.
Line the sides of the steamer insert and up the sides of your slow cooker with soaked corn husks, you’ll most likely need 5 or 6. This prevents the tamales from directly touching the sides of the slow cooker, which may scorch the tamales as they cook.
Place a clean tea towel on your bench top to be your tamale making surface. If the towel gets too wet you can change it more easily than wiping the bench over and over.
Make the Tamales –
Lay a soaked husk on your prepared clean tea towel. Work with the broad end towards you, and the tapered end away. Place a generous 3 tablespoons of dough onto the husk, remembering to cover the dough when not in use.
Spread the dough into a roughly 3-inch by 5-inch rectangle, leaving a space of about 4-inches down from the narrow end of the husk and about 2-inches up from the other end. These ends will be folded over. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and at least 2-inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough roughly ¼-inch thick.
Spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling vertically down the center of the dough.
Take the long side of the corn husk with no masa dough, fold it over so the end of the dough rectangle will meet the other edge of the dough where it is to the edge of the corn husk, encasing the filling in the dough. Wrap the 2-inch spare edge of corn husk around the back of the tamale, essentially sealing in the dough.
Fold the broad end up and over the top of the tamale, tie securely with the prepared strips of corn husk. Then fold the longer narrow end down and tie. There is an alternative method of tying, see Notes.
Steam the Tamales -
Stack the wrapped and tied tamales, as they are made, upright (if possible) into the steamer basket. They will be packed in and will reach to the top of the slow cooker insert.
Cover, set heat to high and cook for 5 to 5 ½ hours until tamales are tender. Once done the corn husk will peel off easily with no dough being pulled away.
Remember to unwrap prior to eating!
If you’d like less heat use jalapeno chile peppers instead of the Serrano.
Maseca brand of Masa Harina is widely available, even in the ethnic aisle of regular supermarkets.
If you find the fold and tie method as described too fiddly you can simply bunch each end of the unfilled corn husk and tie, which is easier, but means the tamales won’t stand in your slow cooker as neatly. If the tamales are lying down then the ones on the bottom may overcook, that is why it is better to have them all standing.
You can use the basic masa dough recipe as given above, and use about 2 cups of whichever filling you desire. You could perhaps use leftover chili from one of the other recipes, or your favorite combination from another online, or book, (such as Viva Vegan!) source.