Most of you usually look forward to the Salvadoran recipes I post here, but today I have a Mexican recipe that both Carlos and I love, (and it’s rare that I can get away with serving Carlos a vegetarian meal!) Mexican tamales de rajas con queso are my favorite, (well, they’re tied with Salvadoran tamales de elote fritos.)
I make these tamales with Monterey Jack cheese, roasted Poblano peppers, and then top with chipotle sauce. It’s the perfect combination and the flavor reminds me a bit of Mexican chiles rellenos, (another favorite dish of mine. Can you tell I love cheese?) Since the filling is vegetarian and I have a few vegetarians in the family, I also make the masa with vegetable broth and Canola oil instead of chicken broth and lard. A little salsa added to the masa gives it a pretty color and plenty of flavor – ¡No te preocupes!
As for Salvadoran recipes, I only recently learned that Salvadoran tamales de chipilín have queso in them too, so I may have to give those a try next. If they turn out well, I’ll be sure to share it here. For now, I hope you enjoy this recipe. Buen provecho!
Tamales de Rajas con Queso / Roasted Pepper and Cheese Tamales
For the masa you need:
4 cups instant corn masa mix for tamales (I use MASECA brand)
2 2/3 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup La Costeña chipotle sauce (keep the rest of the can for later)
1. In a large bowl, combine MASECA, baking powder, and salt.
2. With your hands, mix in vegetable broth, canola oil, and chipotle sauce.
3. Work the masa for several minutes until fluffy. If it doesn’t seem moist enough, you can add a little more vegetable broth and work it in. Set aside.
For the filling you need:
3 large Poblano peppers
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, sliced in long pieces about 1/2 inch in width
corn husks for tamales, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
a steamer pot
aluminum foil, ripped into about twenty 12×8 inch pieces
4. Wash and dry the peppers. Rub a little Canola oil on them and then roast them over medium high heat on a comal/griddle, turning occasionally until blackened.
5. Once roasted, put the peppers into a plastic bag to “sweat.” Seal the bag well. Wait 15 minutes. Remove peppers from the bag, and use a metal spoon to scrape as much of the skin off as you can. Slice peppers open, remove stem and seeds. Slice peppers into long pieces about 1/2 inch in width.
6. To assemble the tamales, take a corn husk, shake dry. Place on a flat surface, spread masa on the corn husk, leaving an inch or two at the tapered bottom without masa.
7. Place 1 piece of cheese and 2 pieces of Poblano pepper in the middle. Fold the sides in, then fold the bottom up. Do not fold the top. Wrap the tamal in foil, leaving the top completely open.
8. Set the tamal into the steamer pot vertically, top up, (with water and pennies in the bottom part of the pot.)
9. Repeat until you have about 20 tamales. Put steamer pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Cover.
10. Cook about 1 hour. You may need to add more water during cook time. If the pennies start clanking around instead of gently jingling, you need more water. When you pour more water into the pot, avoid getting it on the tamales.
11. To test for doneness, remove 1 tamal from the pot. Set it on the counter or a plate and let it sit for 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, you are able to cleanly pull the corn husk off without masa sticking, they’re done.
12. Serve with chipotle sauce to pour on top.
Updated note/tip: Instead of steps 4 & 5, you can simply slice the Poblano peppers and cook them over medium high heat in a little Canola oil in a large frying pan until slightly tender. This is an easier, although less authentic method.