Easy Holiday Tamales
By Nancy Eisman
Holiday traditions vary all over the world, but in some cultures it just wouldn’t be the holidays without tamales. A Christmas tradition in Mexican and Latin homes, making tamales is a special occasion for family members to gather together to make mass quantities of these comfort food bundles.
The thing is that if you make them old-school style, from scratch, you’re looking at several hours of soaking, mashing, crushing, stirring, wrapping, and steaming, and that doesn’t even account for the added fillings. But thanks to Melissa’s Tamale Kits, you can cut your tamale making time down to about 1½ hours, including caramelizing the 3 different types of onions that I used to embellish my batch. (I also placed a piece of red kale down on the corn husk before adding the masa.)
The Melissa’s Tamale Kit includes ready-to-go masa filling that only needs rehydrating with water. You lay out the corn husks, fill with the masa, add your fixins, fold up the tamale so the filling is nice and snug, tie it up with string, and stand them upright in a steamer pot. Forty-five minutes later I had delicious, steaming hot tamales, ready to be doused with my quick cook mole sauce.
Mole (mo-lay) is another classic dish that can take hours or even days to prepare, hardly practical for most of us. I found a simple recipe online, looked in my pantry and fridge, then came up with a one-hour or so version that will make you shout ole’.
Feliz Navidad and to all a good night of tamale making!
Easy Mole Sauce
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1½ cups Onions, diced
1 Fresh Jalapeño Chile, diced
1 Fresh Pasilla Chile, diced
1 Fresh Anaheim Chile, diced
1 Dried Guajillo Chile, crushed
2 tablespoons Dried Mulberries or Raisins
2 tablespoons Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
2 tablespoons Hatch Chile Powder
½ teaspoon Ground Cloves
3 cups Crushed Tomatoes
3 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Salt and Pepper
Heat the vegetable oil in a stockpot on medium heat until it starts sizzling. Add the diced onions and cook until softened and lightly browned.
Add the diced fresh chiles and crushed dried chile to the pot and stir.
Add the seeds and spices and stir to combine, cooking about 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the dried mulberries or raisins and the crushed tomatoes, stir again, and then add the cocoa powder and stir until well blended.
Add about ¾ cup of water to thin out the consistency to your liking, turn the heat down to a simmer, and continue cooking about 35-40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and additional spices if you like.
Turn off the heat and let the mole cool to room temperature. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.