Monday, March 14, 2011

Love Good Tamales

 
While living in the tiny village of Pescadero about an hour south of Cabo San Lucas, I learned the secrets to a simple yet astounding dish. In search of a healthy and portable lunch to prepare for my daughter whose local Mexican school closed for a two hour mid-day lunch/siesta, I discovered Tamales. These are naturally gluten free, vegetarian friendly, soul-satisfying treats. We actually bought our first batch at a Bodega in San Diego just as we were about to cross the border into Baja. We loved them so much, that when we got halfway down the peninsula and stopped in a little town called Guerrero Negro, we bought our second batch from a kind woman in a white truck/cafe in the middle of that desert terrain. By the time we reached our destination in Baja Sur, my daughter had grown quite fond of Tamales and I knew that I would have to master them myself. The traditional Mexican way of preparing them involves a lot of lard, meat stock and  greasy stuffing. I decided that I would find a way to make them as authentic as possible while substituing for all the unhealthy ingredients. I went to the local library in Todos Santos and checked out a few cookbooks, asked for tips around the neighborhood and stocked up on Masa Harina, a lime treated corn flour. For my first homemade batch of Tamales, I only made a dozen mini-sized, which proved to be a big mistake. They turned out so good that we had to bid over the few delicious little gems. From then on, I made them almost daily and in large batches. Oh, what glorious days those were... I know, let's make some today! Firstly, a high quality Masa Harina is essential. 


I love to use the Bob’s Red Mill brand.


To this I add Napa Valley Organic Olive Oil in lieu of lard, 


some sea salt and pure water. As stuffing, Organic black beans are a great vegetarian option. 


And Raw Goat Milk Cheddar is a wonderful easily digestible option to regular cheese.


You can add it to the filling with the black beans or wait and slice some on top of the finished Tamale, like I do. 


The finished parcel is wrapped in corn husks and then steamed for an hour or so.


They are best eaten with Organic Salsa and chopped Cilantro.


The finished product was, again, so well liked that I could barely get in this picture before the last one was eaten!


With all due respect to the traditional recipe, there is really no need for all the unhealthy fat and meat to make good Tamales. The simple way is always the best in my book and most definitely, the most optimal for our health.

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