Monday, November 1, 2010

Tamale Pie with Roasted Garlic, Ancho Chile Cashew Cream and Pumpkin Seed Cilantro Salsa

OK, I've signed up for Vegan MoFo, so I'm sort of committed now to posting at least five days a week.  I hope this wasn't a mistake.  In any event, there are a great number of really good blogs associated with Vegan MoFo, so give a couple of them a try.

I helped a friend with some work this past weekend and never got around to using the black beans I cooked. I was thinking about black bean and corn cakes, but that got modified to tamales, and finally to tamale pie since tamales are a tall order on a week night. This isn't a hard recipe, but it takes a little bit of time in the oven, but that's time you can use to make the cashew cream and salsa.

For the stuffing I used a pretty basic black bean chili, but you could substitute any recipe that you have and like. Again there are several components, but it comes together pretty quickly. If you have leftover chili in the fridge, you can use it to save time (but please don’t use canned chili).

Black bean chili (for the stuffing)

1 large or two medium onions, chopped
2 teaspoons of oil
2-4 red or green chiles, chopped (your choice as to type)
4 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 dried pasilla chile, ground
4 cups of cooked black or other beans
1 cup of tomato sauce (or chopped tomaotes)

Sauté the onion in the oil. Add the chiles, garlic and salt. Cook until they brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and ground chile. Add the beans and tomato sauce. Simmer until it’s thickened, about 20 minutes.

Yes you could use canned beans, but you really should get into the habit of making beans from scratch. The texture’s better and they’re incredibly cheap. Make more than you need because you can put them in the fridge or freeze them. I tend to make beans on the weekend and then use them throughout the week. If you own a crock pot, use it. They’re great for making beans. (In fact they were invented for making beans but were instead sold as “slow cookers” because the marketing folks thought it would have wider appeal.) If you use canned beans drain them and rinse them to try to remove some of their unpleasant canned quality (good luck with that).

For the masa dough you need the following:

4 cups of masa harina
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of corn kernels (from two ears of corn or you can use frozen)
4 cups of water

Mix the dry ingredients and corn kernels together and then add the water (but don’t add it until the chile is done and you’re ready to assemble the pie.

Lightly oil a 13 x 9 baking dish. Add half of the masa dough to the baking dish and pat it out to an even thickness. Pour the chili on top and then cover with the second half of the masa dough. Cover it with foil and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes. Remove the foil and let it cook for an additional 10-15 minutes to brown. Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before cutting it and serving it. It makes 6-8 servings (or more).

While the tamale pie cooks, make the cashew cream and salsa. The cashew cream is based on a recipe from the incredible Millennium Cookbook. It’s similar in texture and tanginess to sour cream, but has a lot of other flavors as well and if you have a blender, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Roasted garlic and ancho chile cashew cream

½ cup of cashew pieces
½ cup of water
2 teaspoons of white miso
¼ cup of lime juice
1 ground ancho chile
1 head of roasted garlic (cut it in half horizontally, wrap in foil and roast it for about 30-45 minutes in a 350 oven)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high for a few minutes until it thickens. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until it’s needed.

Pumpkin Seed and Cilantro Salsa

1/3 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
1 bunch of cilantro with stems , washed and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 red chile (or more to taste)
Juice from 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until well mixed but still a little rough. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

To serve, plate the tamale pie and add a dollop each of the cashew cream and the pumpkin seed cilantro pesto . Because of the chiles and cumin, beer is a natural choice. I prefer beers with a good malt back bone for hot food, since the malt sweetness cuts the heat, but other people prefer hoppy beers. I’d go for a malty brown ale, an English style bitter, an Oktoberfest or a Baltic Porter. If you decide to make it hotter, I’d choose a beer with good malt intensity to stand up to it.

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