There are a few steps in making great tamales. Thankfully, each one is easy! We've found the best way to prepare tamales is in four stages. First, make the filling, then the masa, and then assemble the tamales. Finally, put them all into a pot to steam and let the magic happen!
Here's what you'll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chopped red onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
1 30-ounce can of seasoned black beans or vegetarian chili beans
1/2 cup Chili Verde
1/2 cup red enchilada sauce
2 cups Follow Your Heart Jack Cheese, shredded and reserved for assembling the tamales.
4 cups masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
4 cups warm water
1 cup (2 sticks) vegan butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil (plus extra oil for assembling)
Prepare the husks by placing them into a large bowl or pot and covering them with hot water. Set a heavy plate on top to help keep them submerged. As you remove the husks from their package, there may be some that are cracked or too small to use. Reserve these for the steaming process.
Let's get started!
Prepare the filling
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil, onion, celery, peppers, and garlic. Cover and cook until vegetables are fork tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the fajita seasoning, beans, salsa verde, and red chili sauce. Rough mash the vegetable and bean mixture with a potato masher, and set the filling aside.
Prepare the masa
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the ingredients into the bowl in the order that they're listed. Mix at low speed until everything is well combined. Increase your mixer to medium for a few minutes to "fluff" the masa. This process can be done by hand, if necessary.
Cover and refrigerate the masa until needed. The masa can be made two to three days in advance. You'll want to remove the masa 30 to 45 minutes before assembling the tamales.
Assemble the tamales
Place the soaked corn husks, masa, and filling on a work surface.
Remove one large husk from the water and pat dry. Lay it out on a flat surface with the small pointed end closest to you. It should resemble a triangle. Drizzle a small amount of oil on the inside, about 1/4 teaspoon, just enough to keep the masa from sticking. Place about 1/4 cup of the masa onto the husk. Spread the masa as evenly as possible to approximately 1/8-inch thick. Spread about two tablespoons of the filling down the center of the masa, and sprinkle with roughly a tablespoon of cheese. Fold the narrow end up to the center then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. The sticky masa will form a seal. Pinch the top closed. Lay the tamales out flat, seam side down, until you have assembled enough tamales, and are ready to begin steaming them.
Steam the tamales
Set the tamales upright in a steamer with the pinched end up. Cover the tamales loosely with the wet unusable corn husks, or a damp cloth, then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Set the steamer basket over the boiling water, being careful not to let the water touch the tamales. Steam the tamales for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking the water often to be sure it doesn't evaporate. You'll know the tamales are ready when the masa pulls easily away from the husk. Carefully remove them from the steamer and allow them to rest for about fifteen minutes before serving.
Serve alone or on a bed of seasoned Mexican rice. Don't worry if your tamales don't look perfect - ugly tamales are just as delicious!