Fall is officially here and we are feeling it in Denver with warm days and crisp cool nights. All my photographer friends are posting beautiful pictures of golden aspens from the high country. I have not had time to make it up there and it probably won’t happen this year since I am getting ready for our Italy trip. I’ll just look forward to fall in Italy which I hear is quite beautiful with the vineyards changing colors and everywhere celebrating the tastes of fall harvest.
The smell of roasting green chilies fills the air in many locations around Denver this time of year. Vendors setup in parking lots with their gas-fired roasting bins and drop in fresh green chilies for them to emerge blackened, perfuming the air and my car with the wonderful fragrance of chili oil. Sometimes the smell stays in my car for a few weeks and I breath deeply in enjoyment every time I get into it. It really is the smell of fall in Denver and the West.
The farm stalls at the farmer’s market are filled with winter squash, pumpkins, apples, cold crops such as kale and lettuce and the end of the summer crops. Sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and more sold off for canning. Colorful mums and asters dot the scene and the leaves on the trees have started to change. Since it’s cooler, it’s also time to start cooking those dishes that take longer on the stove. I don’t mind them warming up the kitchen anymore unlike summer where it just makes it HOT.
Tamales spring to mind. I love the beautiful sweet masa combined with just about any type of filling. This recipe, Sweetcorn Tamales with Roasted Green Chilies uses some of the beautifully fragrant green chilies and late summer sweetcorn. It’s creamy, spicy, sweet and just the perfect amount of slightly sour flavor brought in with the goat cheese. Using the sweetcorn paired with the corn masa offers contrasting flavors from the young and old corn. It’s addicting and even as writing this, I want to make more.
They passed the hubby test. He gives them a thumb’s up and asks for more as well. We tried them smothered with green chili which was good but I have to admit our favorite way of eating them was right out of the wrapper without anything on them. They were also better the next day after the flavors had time to meld. Make extra and freeze them or to share with friends. And it’s time for me to jump off here and go clean my place before I get back into the kitchen. It’s perogies on the menu today to use up leftover parsnip potato mash.
Sweetcorn Tamales with Roasted Green Chilies
6 ears of sweet corn, 3 roasted, 3 fresh, cut off cob
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup roasted green chilies, finely chopped
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. flour
1/3 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 cup milk
4 oz. soft goat cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Puree the corn kernels in a food processor or blender. Set aside until needed.
In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic and chilies and cook until the shallots are tender, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the flour, nutmeg and white pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until flour is lightly browning.
Slowly pour in the milk, stirring to make sure no lumps forms. Continue to cook the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the corn purée and goat cheese.
Cook and stir until heated through, season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Set aside until needed.
Tamale Assembly and Cooking
20 – 30 dried corn husks
Large pot with steamer insert and lid
Start soaking the corn husks in hot water in a large bowl at the same time you start cooking the chicken, so they will be soft and pliable by the time the dough and meat is finished.
Once the masa and the corn filling is ready, drain the corn husks and get ready to assemble your tamales.
You’ll want to lay things out in a convenient way with your masa dough one side, where it’s easy to get to. Your filling on the other and a steamer pot close by to add the finished tamales to (check out my picture above to see how I do it). You’ll also need a butter knife, large spoon or spatula to spread the masa (use what works best for you, I use the back of a large spoon).
Line the bottom of the pot with small corn husks or ones that won’t work for the tamales.
Lay several wide husks out on your work surface. Drop a large spoonful of masa on the husks and spread to about 1/4″ thick, leaving about 1 inch on each end of the husk free of dough.
Add about 2 tablespoons of filling down the middle of the dough, leaving about 1/2″ of masa at each end with no filling.
Roll up the sides of the husks until the overlap and then fold up the bottom of the husk to make a packet. Press the top of the masa edges together and lean the tamales against the side of the steamer insert with the top up.
Repeat until finished. Do not over crowd the tamales in the steamer, leave a little room in between for the steam to get in around them.
If you have leftover tamale filling, you can freeze it for later or use to make another dish.
Place about 1 1/2 inches of water in the bottom of the steamer pot, add the insert and cover tightly with the lid. Bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat to medium to keep the water steaming and cook the tamales for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
To tell if the tamales are done, you can take one out of the pan and gently pull the husk open. If the masa dough is still sticking to the husk, they need more time in the steamer. If it let’s go cleanly, remove the pot from the heat. Take off the lid and allow the tamales to cool to edible temperature.
Serve warm plain or with salsa, sour cream, red sauce, green chili or the toppings of your choice.
I’ll leave you with more recipes using corn and green chilies: