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Butternut Squash Tamales

12 December

Makes 16 tamales

This is from an old Rick Bayless cookbook, One Plate at a Time.

Steamer basket
Bowl to soak corn husks
Measuring cups and spoons
Bowls for mixing


1 8-oz package of corn husks (or a package that contains at least 16 husks!)

…for dough:
2 cups diced butternut squash
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup diced scallions (white and green) (from about 6 scallions)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups masa harina
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil

…for filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bunch scallions
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo, sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup Spanish olives with pimentos, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup capers
1 cup vegetable stock
1 scant teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
hot sauce for serving

Prep Work:
First immerse husks in a bowl with hot tap water and weight down with a plate to keep submerged. Soak for at least 30 minutes. (It’s okay to just leave them in the water until you’re ready to use them.)

For the dough:
1. Put butternut squash in a pot with broth, scallions, adobo sauce, garlic, salt, and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Remove squash with a slotted spoon, reserve broth. Set aside half the squash for the filling, then mash the remaining squash in a large bowl.
3. Mix in the masa with a fork. Slowly pour the reserved broth over the dough, mixing with a fork (or hands) until smooth. Stir in oils, a little at a time until dough is soft and moist. Cover and set aside.

For the filling:
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions, garlic, chiles, cumin, and salt and cook until soft, about 1 minute.
5. Add reserved squash, plus the olives, raisins and capers and cook, stirring gently, until well combined. Add broth and orange zest and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth is slightly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Remove from heat.

Assembly Instructions:
1. Cut 16 strings 8 inches long.
2. One at a time, spread out a soaked husk and place about 1/4 cup of dough in center of each husk, leaving enough husk free to enclose tamale. Pat down. Spoon 2 – 3 tablespoons filling on top, then cover filling with 2 – 3 tablespoons more dough, gently patting to cover filling.
3. Wrap husks around the filling and twist and tie ends with reserved string.
4. Lay tamales in a steamer basket, cover and steam until husks get slightly transparent, about 50 minutes.
5. Remove tamales from steamer, let rest 5 – 10 minutes before serving.