Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Tamales with Candied Pecans & Blackberry Salsa

Recently I received a stove-top smoker for my birthday and was even more excited to realize I could also use it as a steamer. I love kitchen appliances that have more than one use. Usually when making tamales I would jimmy-rig a pretty sketchy steam basket on top of my stove, now I am living in the lap of luxury.
Most tamales are made with all masa but these are made with hominy. Ecuadorian tamales follow this procedure (hominy or fresh corn kernels) resulting in a tamale that is slightly more coarse but much less dense and more fluffy.

Hominy based tamales filled with sweet potato and ancho chili, garnished with sweet and spicy pecans and tart blackberry salsa.

Sweet Potato Tamales
8-10 tamales
1-28 oz can white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup masa harina
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbl vegetable broth

Combine the hominy and masa in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the olive oil, baking powder and salt. Drizzle in the broth until the mixture is thick but spreadable and creamy.

1 large sweet potato, peeled, small dice
1 dried ancho chili
1/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt, to taste
dried corn husks, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes

Cook the sweet potato, chili and red onion in boiling, salted water until tender.
Once cooked, drain and remove the seeds and stem from the chili. Roughly chop. Transfer to a food processor along with the cinnamon and salt. Pulse the vegetable mixture until creamy but not totally mashed.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare a steamer basket with one inch of water and bring to a boil.
Lay a whole husk flat on a work surface, smooth side down, with one long edge closest to you. Spoon a 3-4 tablespoons of masa and top with 2 tablespoons of sweet potato filling across the wide end of the husk. Fold in both sides, covering the mixture then roll up like a sealed burrito. Repeat until all filling is used.
Set tamales on rack, lower heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and steam until filling is firm, about 1 hour, adding water to pan as needed to maintain 1-inch depth.

Candied Pecans
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup water
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbl canola oil
Combine the pecans and water and boil for 7 minutes. Drain and toss with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne. Saute with canola oil until toasty and caramelized. Drain on a paper towel.

Blackberry Salsa
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 jalapeno, seeded & diced
2 tbl minced red onion
1 tbl roughly chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and chill for 20 minutes before serving.

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