Thursday, October 7, 2010

Barbecue Seitan & Corn Tamales, Charred Jalapeno Crema, Crispy Artichokes, Smoked Tomato Salsa

I wanted to make something Mexican influenced that I haven't made personally before and tamales were calling my name. I like the idea of tamales because the filling options are endless and they freeze well so you can make dozens at one time. I also have a 5lb bag of masa that is taking up way too much room in my cupboard! The filling I prepared for these is less traditional then you might normally find, but feel free to fill it with whatever you want and I will make sure the authentic tamale police doesn't hunt you down.

Soft corn tamales filled with slow cooked barbecue seitan, roasted corn and fresh cilantro served with smoked tomato salsa. Piping hot artichoke hearts in a crisp outer shell, drizzled with spicy charred jalapeno crema.

Barbecue Seitan & Corn Tamales

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
8 oz seitan, cut into strips
1/2 red onion, large dice
1/4c ketchup
2 tbl agave
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tbl ancho chili powder
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 ear yellow corn, charred under a broiler
1/4c chopped cilantro
24 dried corn husks
1 1/2c masa harina
4 tbl vegetable shortening
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2c +/- warm water

In a saute pan, heat the oil and sear the seitan until it is crispy.
In a crock pot combine the red onion, ketchup, agave, red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, ancho powder and garlic clove. Stir to combine and add the seitan. Cook on high for 4 hours. Stir in the charred corn kernels and cilantro. Set mixture aside.
In a large bowl, separate the corn husks and soak in warm water for 10 minutes.
With an electric mixer, combine the masa with water until it forms a dough. Mix for 5 minutes until the dough has cooled down. Beat in the vegetable shortening 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the baking powder and salt.
Prepare your steamer.
With the wide end towards you, lay the corn husk down flat and press a spoonful of masa dough down flat, shaping a rectangle, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch barrier around all the edges (depending on how big your husks are) Spoon 1-2 tbl of the barbecue seitan on top and cover with another thin, flat layer of masa, enclosing the seitan completely. Fold the husk sides in and roll up like a burrito. Place the tamales on your steamer rack, seam side down. Steam for 20 minutes or until hard when pressed. Unwrap and serve hot!

Charred Jalapeno Crema

1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno
1/2c vegan sour cream
1 tbl maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.
Place the whole jalapeno on a piece of foil. Drizzle with oil. Place directly on the oven shelf and roast for 35 minutes until charred and soft. Let cool. Cut off the steam and remove the seeds inside.
In a food processor, combine the jalapeno with the remaining ingredients and pulse until completely blended. Chill in the fridge to set back up.

Smoked Tomato Salsa

2 smoked tomatoes, large dice**
1/4 red onion, large dice
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in 4's (seeds and membrane removed if you don't want it spicy)
Juice from 1 lime
1 tbl ground ancho chili powder
sea salt to taste
1 tbl extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except salt and oil. Pulse until only small chunks remain but not until it is smooth. Season to taste with salt.
In a small saute pan, heat the oil and add the salsa. Cook for 5 minutes and set aside to cool down. Season with salt again if necessary.

**You can use a steamer to smoke the tomatoes at home. Applewood chips work the best because they add flavor without imparting a bitter flavor.
Line the pan with foil and put some wood chips in the bottom half. Put the lid on and put over a high heat. Let the chips start to blacken and smoke. Line the top part of the steamer with a circle of parchment, with some holes poked in it. Drizzle with a little bit of oil and lay 2 whole tomatoes in it. Sit the steamer on top and cover with a lid. Smoke for 10 minutes then remove and let cool.

Crispy Artichokes

Canola Oil for frying
1-15oz can artichoke quarters, drained and rinsed
1/2c Rice flour***
coarse sea salt and pepper
small handful of cilantro, minced

Fill a large pot with 1/4 inch canola oil. Bring the heat to 350. Toss the artichoke quarters with flour, salt and pepper. Shake off any excess flour and drop into oil. Let fry until crispy and golden brown. Drain on a paper bag or towel and sprinkle with salt and cilantro.

*** You might notice that I often use rice flour as opposed to all purpose flour when deep frying. Rice flour creates a very light, crispy coating that you can't achieve with AP Flour. If you can't find rice flour then simply remove some of the AP flour from your recipe and add cornstarch instead. This will help you obtain that same crispy coating.

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