These mild-mannered tamales come together relatively quickly and are easily composed from items in your pantry. No need to view tamale-making as a giant project. Once you have a great masa, you can make a tamale out of just about anything—including leftovers. So, what’s stopping you?
These tamales arose out of a need to do something with leftover turkey chile verde and black beans that had an original life as a burrito filling. With few notable (and optional) exceptions, these tamales can be assembled completely from your pantry shelves, making them a pretty cool prepper meal if the SHTF scenario happens.
30-40 corn husks (regular size—if smaller, you will need double)
For the Masa:
- 6 C maseca/masa harina for tamales
- 1 t salt
- 1 ½ t baking powder
- 1 ½ t baking soda
- 1 t onion powder
- 4 ½ warm chicken/turkey stock (use your drained liquid from the canned turkey to get this going)
- ½ C salsa verde
- 1 C lard at room temperature
For the Filling:
- 28 oz can of turkey, drained (save broth to add to help make your broth total above)
- 1/2 C salsa
- 1 C finely diced jalapenos
- 2/3 C rough chopped onions
- 3-4 T olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 8 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 C cubed cheese (Monterey jack, jalapeno jack, fontina)
- Soak the husks in warm water to soften.
- Heat your stock. Don’t forget to add your drained juices from the canned turkey to help make your 4 ½ C of stock.
- Using a KitchenAid mixer or hand mixer is easiest, but you can certainly do this by hand.
- Mix dry ingredients for the masa (masa, salt, baking powder and soda).
- Gradually add the warm stock and ½ C salsa to your dry ingredients.
- While stirring/mixing add lard by tablespoon drops to the masa. The masa should be loose, but thicker than pancake batter—more like mortar mix. It needs to be spreadable and moist. If too dry, add more stock and lard. If too loose, add more masa harina. It is important to taste the masa as you are making it. It should be flavorful, not bland. When done mixing, cover it and set to the side. (And, yes, you do need this much lard, perhaps even more. If lard is not available, you can use coconut oil, schmaltz, tallow, or even butter or a mixture of any. I do not recommend vegetable shortening.)
- For your filling, sauté the onions in the olive oil with salt and pepper until softened. Add the turkey and minced jalapenos.
- Add enough salsa to make the filling moist and spoonable (about 2, 7 oz cans).
- Drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
- Drain your corn husks and place in a kitchen towel to absorb moisture and to keep them from drying out during assembly.
- Take a husk and apply masa on the top/wide end approximately 4 inches wide and 4 inches long. You can use a spatula or put your hand inside a plastic bag.
- Spoon turkey filling down the side or center (3 T or so).
- Top with a scattering of black beans and cheese cubes.
- Roll together and flip bottom up.
- Add a dollop of masa on the top to close it if there is not enough at the open end.
- Place in rows in a steamer basket.
- Place steamer rack with tamales over boiling water and cover securely.
- Steam for 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Make sure your water does not boil away, but try to avoid lifting the lid.
- To test for doneness, open a tamale to see if it is fluffy. If it is sticky, cook a bit longer.
- Unwrap the hot tamales and serve over lettuce, rice, and/or beans.
- Spoon salsa over the tamale.
Other: You can save cooked tamales in the fridge. They also freeze great. Leftover masa? Dogs and chickens love it, or freeze it.