It rained all weekend in SF, and I cooped up in my cozy living room with a warm blanket, good company, and my netflix account. This had several consequences: 1) It caused me to watch 4 movies. 2) It made me crave something warm and cozy to eat. 3) It left my hands free and antsy to fidget as I sat around and watched these movies. So... I made tamales.
To be perfectly honest, it was no easy feat. The filling was absolutely delicious before I even folded it up into the husks: it was creamy, sweet, spicy, and warm. I ate a bowlful. It was the folding it up into little bite-sized tamales that took time. But if you have time on your hands, I promise it's worth it. You can make a bunch and then freeze for up to 2 months and microwave them when you're in the mood. I now have a freezer full of 20 or more mini-tamales to warm up whenever a rainy day or a craving strikes.
And honestly, if you don't have that much time, make the corn pudding! It basically tastes like really delicious creamed corn, minus all the cream, plus a little spice. I can taste it now....
I got the recipe from this blog I love, From Argentina with Love. It's fully of adventurous stories and Argentine recipes galore. Try it out, and check out the blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
HUMITAS EN CHALA CON QUESO DE CABRA
(CORN PUDDING TAMALES WITH GOAT CHEESE)
8 ears of fresh corn, in their husks ($4 - on special at Safeway)
1 yellow onion, chopped ($0.40)
4 roasted piquillo peppers, chopped (I used red peppers, for $1)
6 oz. soft goat cheese (I used honey goat cheese because it was cheapest, $3.50)
1/2 cup milk ($1.49)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional - can leave out if you don't like spice)
Special equipment: cotton string, steamer basket
The Grand Total: $10.39, if it makes 8 servings, that's $1.30 per serving
To Roast your Peppers (I got this part from this thread on CookingLight.com)
Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and innards. Place them on a baking sheet skin side up. Place the sheet in a 450-500 degree oven (you can also use the toaster oven, like I did!) set on broil. The skin will start to blacken and soften in 7-10 minutes.
Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a large ziploc bag. Close and let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and "sweat"). Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off. What you will have left is a moist, wonderfully cooked pepper.
For the Corn Pudding
Chop the ends off of the ears of corn (you can use a scissors for the top end, and a heavy knife for the other) so that the leaves are easy to remove. Carefully remove the leaves of the corn husk and reserve. Remove and discard the silk.
Using a box grater (an important step--results will not be the same if you cut the kernels off and use a food processor) grate the ears of corn over the large holes on the grater into a bowl. Slide a knife down the side of each cob to squeeze out any extra starchy juice.
Meanwhile, combine the butter and olive oil in a medium sized non-reactive pot. Heat over medium high heat, and add the onion, sauteing until translucent but not brown. Add in the grated corn and its juices, stirring and heating until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the milk, and heat through. Continue to stir until milk is absorbed and humitas mixture is thick. The consistency you're going for here is a thickened, pudding-like one. Add salt, taste for seasoning, and stir in the piquillo peppers and the crushed red pepper. Remove the humitas from heat, and let cool completely.
When the humitas has cooled (this may also help to thicken the pudding), start your assembly. Put a large pot fitted with a metal colander or steamer basket on the top (see below) halfway full of water. Heat the water to a boil.
Cut the string to fit around each tamal. I used about 2 feet per tamal, but you may want to try one out before you cut enough for all of them.
While the water is coming to a boil, assemble the tamales like this:
|Place one leaf over another like a cross. Place a dollop of humitas in the middle, and top with a spoonful of goat cheese.|
|Carefully wrap the inside leaf around the humitas.|
|Fold the outside leaf around the inside leaf.|
|Tie up like a present with the cotton string.|
When the water begins to boil, place about 6 tamales in the steamer basket and cover with the lid. Keep the water boiling and steam the tamales for 15-20 minutes, until soft and heated through. Remove the tamales and repeat with the remaining batches. It may be necessary to add more water and heat to a boil if you run low.