Mexican Style Tamales~ “On the Lighter Side”. I am as traditional as they come. When it comes to the foods I grew up with, I don’t like to skimp on ingredients. But, being the cook that I am, curiosity did get the best of me for this “On the Lighter Side” version of Mexican Tamales. In my collection of Mexican cookbooks, I came across a recipe that caught my attention. “Fat Free Masa”. I was like no way! How many times do you hear the celebrity chefs preach that fat equals flavor? Too many times, lol! I agree to a certain degree. In my own journey of weight loss over the years, I learned that just because recipes are lighter this does not mean they should taste bland.
My concept is, if you take out most of the fat, add more flavor using spices, chiles and acid – like Aloha’s salsa verde and chimichurri recipes on their healthy recipe page! I confess, I am one of those people who garnishes my savory dishes with a little hot sauce and fresh lime most of the time. I just think that it brings out the flavors in the savory foods. For this recipe, the fat, which is traditionally pork manteca/lard, you will add whipped potatoes instead. Potatoes? I know, that’s what I thought as well.
To add more of a traditional flavor, I bumped up the amount of chile sauce than I normally would add to the masa. I was skeptical, until I tasted them. I have to say, it is the best fake out for a traditional tamal that I have tried. The texture is pretty much the same with just a subtle flavor of potatoes in the backround. I have prepared these several times since and switch out the fillings depending on what I am in the mood for.
Chile Infused Tamales “On the Lighter Side”. These were filled with queso fresco and chile verde chunky salsa
For Chile Sauce
12 dried New Mexico or guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed
2 dried chipotle peppers,optional if you like it more spicy
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tablespoon crushed cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon crushed Mexican oregano
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Salt to taste
5 cups masa harina
All of the chile sauce from recipe above
3 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large russet potato or 4 new potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 to 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
*For Traditional Masa, eliminate the potatoes and add 1 1/2 cups of melted pork manteca or vegetable shortening
You will also need
36 or more large dried cornhusk
a large steamer pot
1. Before anything else, cover the corn husk with extra hot water. Use a heavy weight to keep them immersed in the water. Let them soak for a good hour or longer. In a medium saucepan, add all the dried chiles, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain all of the water, transfer to the blender. Add all the remaining ingredients listed for chile sauce to the blender. Blend on high until smooth. Strain, using a wire mesh strainer, set sauce aside.
2. In a separate medium pot, add potatoes, fill with just enough water to cover. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are fork tender.
3. While potatoes are cooking, in a bowl combine the masa harina,salt and baking powder. Gradually add in the water and chile sauce until the dough forms. If you do not have a KitchenAid, lol, it’s best to get right in there and use your hands to mix the dough. The dough is ready when it stops sticking to your hands. If it seems too dry add a little more water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
4. When potatoes are ready, drain all the water, reserving 2 tablespoons it. In a large bowl, add the potatoes, water from potatoes and with a hand mixer whip the potatoes until fluffy. Alternate adding the masa and the chicken broth a little at a time until the dough is smooth like frosting. If using right away, let masa rest for at least 30 minutes. You can cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days until ready to use.
5. When ready to assemble, you are looking for one that is no more than 4 inches across. Spread with about 4 tablespoons of masa, fill with 2 tablespoons of your favorite meat or veggie filling, fols in the sides until they overlap slightly. Fold top down. Fill steamer pot with water and arrange the tamales with open side up. You want the tamales to fit in there pretty snug. This will help them hold their shape better while they steam. Cover tamales with any extra cornhusk or with a wet, clean kitchen towel. Steam at medium heat for 1 hour, adding more hot water after 30 minutes.Pull one tamal out and let cool. If tamal pull away from husk then they are ready. Remove from heat and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes covered. Serve with your favorite salsa. Yields 40 large tamales or 50 medium, more or less.