Tamales with Black Beans (Tamales y Fri­joles)

MAKES 14 Ac­tive: 45 min. • To­tal: 2 hr. 55 min.

SAVEUR - - Contents -

Meat and fat are scarce in Chi­a­pas, so the lo­cal tamale dough is much leaner than it is in other re­gions. The most com­mon meat­less ver­sions at the mar­kets in south­ern Chi­a­pas are wrapped in ba­nana leaves and can in­clude greens like hoja santa or chilipin, as well as black beans. At Yo’on Ixim in Puebla, the women make both blue corn and white corn ver­sions, some­times adding fresh shelling beans. Frozen ba­nana leaves are easy to come by in Asian su­per­mar­kets—moisten them with wa­ter to keep them pli­able while fill­ing.

1 pack­age frozen ba­nana leaves, thawed, cen­ter seams re­moved, leaves cut into 8-inch squares, scraps re­served 4 cups pre­pared blue corn masa ½ cup veg­etable oil or lard 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. kosher salt 1 lb. cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (2½ cups) Charred Tomato and Chile Salsa (recipe at right), or sub­sti­tute store­bought, for serv­ing

1 Place the ba­nana leaves in a wide bowl or bak­ing dish of cold wa­ter while you pre­pare the masa. In a large bowl, com­bine the masa, lard or oil, and salt with your hands, knead­ing and squeez­ing the mix­ture un­til it forms a thick and pli­able paste that doesn’t crack around the edges. Cover and set aside for 30 min­utes.

2 Line the bot­tom of a medium pot with a few lay­ers of ba­nana leaves to keep the tamales from stick­ing (this is a good use for the scraps left over from cut­ting the squares). Add enough wa­ter to come about 3 inches up the sides of the pot. Cover the pot and set over low heat to warm.

3 Turn the masa out onto a work sur­face. Flat­ten it into a large rec­tan­gle, and sprin­kle the beans over the sur­face. Use the heels of your hands to press and knead the masa and beans to­gether un­til they are well com­bined.

Di­vide the mix­ture into four­teen ½ cup por­tions, then shape each into a chunky patty about ¾ inch thick. Wrap each patty loosely in a ba­nana leaf square to cover, then stack the tamales seam side down in the pot. Cover the pot and ad­just the heat as needed; steam un­til the masa is set, about 1 hour 10 min­utes. Turn off the heat and let rest, cov­ered, for 30 min­utes. Serve warm with salsa.

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