Butternut Squash Tamales

Tamales are a popular Mexican street snack. Try this veggie version.

  • Preparation Time90 mins
  • Cooking Time60 mins
  • DifficultyMedium

For the dough

225g diced butternut squash
750ml vegetable stock
6 spring onions, chopped (white and green)
1 tbsp tinned chipotle in adobo sauce (chillis for filling)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
420g masa harina, preferably Columbian such as Pan Harina
180ml extra-virgin olive oil
120ml vegetable oil

For the filling

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch spring onions, finely chopped (white and green)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotle chillis in adobo, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
65g Spanish olives with pimentos, chopped
80g golden sultanas
35g capers
240ml vegetable stock
3g finely grated orange zest
10g chopped fresh coriander
Hot sauce for serving, optional

For the tamales

About 16 corn husks, or 22 corn husks for smaller tamales, soaked in water until soft
For the dough:
1) Put the butternut squash in a medium pan with the stock, spring onion, adobo sauce, garlic, salt and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 mins.

2) Remove the squash with a slotted spoon, and reserve the stock. Set aside half the squash for the filling, then mash the remaining squash in a large bowl. Mix in the masa with a fork. Slowly pour in the seasoned broth, mixing with a fork (or hands) until smooth. Slowly stir in the oils, a little at a time, until the dough is soft and moist. Cover with cling film and set aside.

For the filling:
1) Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, chillies, cumin and salt and cook until soft, about 1 min. Add the reserved squash, olives, sultanas and capers, and cook, stirring gently, until well combined, about 1 min longer.

2) Add the stock and orange zest and cook, stirring occasionally until the stock is slightly absorbed, about 2 mins. Stir in the coriander, then remove from the heat.

To assemble the tamales:
1) Cut 2 husks into 60cm lengths about 1cm wide. Place the other soaked corn husks on the cutting board, open side up. Place about 50 to 60g dough in the centre of each husk, leaving enough corn husk free to enclose the tamale.

2) Spoon 2 to 3 tbsp filling on top, then cover filling with about 2 to 3 tbsp more of dough. Wrap the husks around the filling, twist the ends and tie with the reserved strips to make party-favour shaped tamales.

3) Set up a 25cm steamer basket. Lay the tamales in the steamer, cover and cook until the husks are slightly translucent, about 50 mins.

4) Remove the tamales from the steamer, and leave to rest for 5 to 10 mins before serving with additional hot sauce if desired.

Cook's Note: These can also be made into smaller finger sized tamales, and then steamed for 45 mins.

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