Vegan Carnitas, Corn, and Kale Tamales

Tamales have been on my food bucket list (we all have on of those, right?) for way too long.   I’ll admit my kitchen was in shambles for an hour or so while I was making them, but they’re actually much simpler than I’d imagined.   Plus, it’s the kind of thing you can make a huge batch of and freeze for quick meals later on.

The recipe on the masa harina package called for 2/3 cup of shortening, but I wanted to test out the dough with a smaller amount of fat.  I added just a couple spoonfuls of melted coconut oil.  The verdict?  A healthy success.  I could eat steamed masa dough on its own, but delicious fillings make it even better.  You can add in just about any mixture of ingredients you like or have on hand.  I didn’t have enough leftover carnitas for a full batch, so I filled the rest with beans in place of the jackfruit.

VEGAN TAMALES (makes 8 large or 16 small tamales)

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (shortening or canola oil will work too)
  • 2 cups lukewarm water or vegetable stock (if using stock, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Filling of choice: I used jackfruit carnitas, grilled corn, and kale.  Try beans, tempeh, tofu, your favorite vegetables, or cheese (vegan or otherwise).  I added vegetables straight from the freezer – don’t worry about thawing.
  • Corn husks, parchment paper, or aluminum foil (cut parchment/aluminum into sheets about standard paper size)

1.  Mix masa harina, baking powder, and salt in a bowl

2. Add water and oil to masa mixture and whisk until no clumps remain.  If dough is runny, add in more masa by the spoonful.

3.  Spread 1/4 cup masa dough over corn husk, starting from one edge and covering about 2/3 of the width of the husk and half the length.

4.  Spoon 1-2 tablespoons filling in center of masa

5.  Roll each tamal so that the two ends of the masa rectangle meet.  Fold the “tail” of the corn husk up and wrap the rest of the husk around the tamal. Tie a thin piece of husk or twine around the tamal to keep it’s shape.

6.  Stand tamales open side up in a steamer basket.  Steam over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, checking for doneness every fifteen minutes.  Time will vary depending on wetness of masa dough and size of tamales.

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