Friday, January 17, 2014

Turkey Mole Tamales!



      In the winter is when I do a lot of cooking, finding recipes and developing new favorites.
It's a perfect time when you've had your share of the great outdoors for a bit, and you have plenty of the leftovers that the holidays bring.  There can be a surplus of foods that you don't take the time to cook throughout the rest of the year.  For me, turkey comes to mind.
      I always have a surplus of turkey left over at Thanksgiving.   There's a couple of more days of turkey with all the trimmings, and of course great turkey sandwiches.  No matter how great a deli, nothing beats just sliced roast turkey.  Couple of slices of good whole wheat bread, mayo, turkey topped with a dollop of cranberry sauce, and I'm set.
      This is great till about Sunday, then I start hankering for something different.  I'll usually do a turkey pot pie, I think a fairly common use of left over turkey.  This year I was hankering for a little spice.  In a couple of days I will post my gumbo recipe, which is a January standby for us.  This year I decided to give tamales a try.
      I love tamales.  After spending a few years in the LA area, we got to know "places" (restaurants, trucks, and mobile food vendors, that you find where they are by luck or the internet) that had great ones; and even our local grocery store had them the from the local vendors, in their frozen section.
   
     I knew turkey mole would be a great filling.  One of the labors of love on my culinary "wish list" of learning how to make is authentic mole.  Back about 12 years ago, I managed a restaurant in downtown LA and a coworker I was friends with had just returned from a visit to his home in Mexico.  Upon his return to work, he had for me, much to my delight, a block of homemade Oaxacan Black Mole.  It had been made by his aunt, and all I needed to do to acquire this delicacy, was to try another Oaxacan delicacy:  Chapulines.  Otherwise known as grasshoppers.  I had never tried them before and it seemed a small price to pay for homemade mole.  If you've never tried them, to me they were similar in texture to biting into several layers of the skin of Spanish peanuts.  Very similar to phyllo dough, seasoned with chile, cayenne, lime and salt.  Not bad at all.  The mole was well worth it.  I kept it in the freezer, and every time I wanted some I would slice off a bit and cook it with a bit of poultry stock, and it was amazing every time.  Gracias a la tia de David.
 
     So let's cut to the chase.  This recipe makes about 36  4" tamales, and not including the husk soaking time, takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  They make great dinners, snacks, and could even be cut to bite size for parties.  The thing that makes them easy to make is that I used ready-made salsa verde and mole.

You'll need-
Corn husks -Ahead of time; soak 50 husks in hot water for 2+ hours.  You can do this in a large pot, or in your kitchen sink.

4 cups of Masa
Mix and knead masa with 1 tablespoon of salt
Add to this 2/3 cup melted lard or bacon fat.  It's okay, you won't be eating it all at once.
Then add 2-3 cups of stock; adding and mixing by hand a 1/2 cup at a time.  I had turkey on hand, but chicken stock would be fine.  The consistency you are aiming for is for the masa to stick together when you grip it in your hand.  Cover with a wet towel until ready to use.

For the filling:
3 cups of shredded turkey
1 cup of Queso Fresco
! cup of Salsa Verde
1/2 -3/4 cup of prepared mole

Process in a food processor, just a few pulses till ingredients are mixed and resemble a chunky paste.

To assemble:

Flatten out a husk on work service (cutting board).  At times you'll need to use 2. 
Spoon out 2 1/2 Tbls of masa mixture onto husk; flatten into a rectangle about 2x3x 1/4 thick.  
Top with about 1 tablespoon of turkey mole mixture.
To roll up: fold up what will be the bottom; then with the side closest to you, carefully roll until masa forms a tube completely covering turkey mix and husk covers all.  Fold down top.  Place in steaming pan on end.

Steam for an 1 hour.  Enjoy plain or top with sauce and cheese.  Can be stored in freezer for 3 months in freezer bags.  To re-steam,  just take from freezer and steam for 20 minutes. 

Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

If you ever have any questions, just post it in the comment section or email me at sadiesgathering@gmail.com.

All the best,
S.