Oaxacan pumpkin tamales

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 pounds Banana leaves (thawed if
\N \N Frozen)
\N \N For the corn dough:
1 \N Recipe Basic Tamale Dough
2 cups Cooked or canned pureed
\N \N Pumpkin or winter squash
\N \N (drain slightly if
\N \N Watery)
1½ teaspoon Ground true Ceylon cinnamon,
\N \N Preferably freshly ground in
\N \N Spice grinder,
\N \N Or1/2 teaspoon ground U.S.
\N \N Cinnamon
3 ounces Piloncillo, grated or
\N \N Crushed, or 1/2 cup firmly
\N \N Packed dark brown
\N \N Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
\N \N For the bean filling:
2 teaspoons Aniseed
2 cups Water
2 \N To 2 1/2 cups cooked or
\N \N Drained canned black beans
2 \N To 3 canned Chipolte chiles
5 \N To 6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons Lard
\N \N Salt, to taste

Unfold the banana leaves, being careful not to split them unnecessarily. Wipe them with a clean damp cloth. With kitchen scissors, trim the leaves into 12 to 14 rectangles about 14 by 11 inches. Save some of the longer trimmings. Pat dry and set aside.

Place the dough in a large bowl and add the pumpkin, Ceylon cinnamon and grated sugar cane or brown sugar and salt, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until very light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The mixture, should be as light as buttercream. Make an anise infusion by boiling the aniseed in the water until reduced by half. Strain and reserve.

Working in batches if necessary, puree the beans in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade together with the chiles, garlic and anise tea.

Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a heavy skillet or wide, shallow saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add the bean puree, watching out for splatters. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring to prevent sticking, until the liquid is evaporated. Season with salt. Cool to room temperature.

To fill the tamales, place 1 or 2 banana-leaf rectangles at a time flat on the counter. Tear off some long, thin strips from the reserved banana-leaf trimmings to use as ties. Place a big handful (⅔ to 1 cup) of the Masa (corn mixture) in the center of the leaf.

With a spatula or your fingers, spread it into an oval about 4 by 3 inches and ½-inch thick. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the bean filling in the center of the oval.

Fold the right and left edges of the banana leaf toward the center to meet, overlapping a little to cover the filling, then fold the top and bottom edges toward the center to make a neat, flat package about 4 by 5 inches. Fasten by tieing with a thin strip of banana leaf.

Place the tamales flat in the steamer, seam side up, arranging them in layers as necessary. Place some extra banana leaves on top to help absorb steam. Steam 1 hour over boiling water, replenishing with hot water as necessary.

Yield: 12 to 14 tamales

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