Posted by: acooksca | 09/23/2010

Tamales of Prawn and Roasted Corn with Salsa Ranchero

Here is an end of summer recipe inspired by Chef Mark Miller of Coyote Grill in Santa Fe. In step with modern New Mexican cooking, Chef Miller makes a complex dish of roasted fresh chilies, corn and tomatoes to accent a prawn topped tamale.

Prawn and Roasted Corn Tamale on Salsa Ranchero

 Traditional tamale dough is time intensive, with beating shortening or lard into ground corn flour (masa) until it is fluffy, then allowing it to rest at least an hour. This recipe uses olive oil and the dough is much quicker to make.

Roasting corn, tomatoes and chilies gives them a complex and slightly smoky flavor. It also makes the chilies easy to peel. In one 10 minutes session under a high heat broiler you can get everything roasted and ready to proceed efficiently with the recipe. Be sure to cover a sheet pan with foil to prevent sticking and smoking and place the rack close to the broiler.

You will need an electric mixer and a steaming rack to cook the tamales. I use stacking Chinese bamboo steamers over a wok of gently boiling water. Because these tamales are shaped as pillows topped with the prawns rather than stuffed, you will not need the tortilla press one uses when making stuffed tamales.

Roast in several batches:
3 Pasilla or Poblano chilies
5 Serrano chilies
1 fresh ear of corn
2# (about 10) Roma tomatoes
8 large fresh prawns, in the shell

On a foil lined baking sheet roast the chilies whole, turn occasionally, until the skin is blistered and partially blackened. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam as they cool. Cut the kernels off the corn cob, placing the kernels on the baking sheet. Slice the tomatoes into halves, lengthwise and place on the baking sheet, cut side down. Roast until corn and tomatoes have black spots, about 3 minutes. Remove and keep separate. Roast the prawns, in the shell to retain color and moisture, until just set, about 3 minutes.

Make the Dough:
1 ½ c. masa harina (masa seca corn flour)
1 tsp. salt
½ c. olive oil
1 c. warm water
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 roasted Serrano chilies, peeled and seeded, finely chopped.
Roasted corn kernels from one ear
1 roasted Roma tomato, finely chopped

Place the masa and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. While running on medium-high, blend in the oil. Beat for 3 minutes. Add the water and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for 1 minute longer. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature for the masa to absorb the liquids.

Form the Tamales:
Soak 16 large dried corn husks (available in the Mexican food sections of many supermarkets)
8 large roasted prawns
1 lime

Place the husks in warm water to soften. Peel the roasted prawns. Slit prawns in halve down the back and remove any dark vein which could contain sand. Sprinkle with salt and juice of the lime. Dry off the husks and lay flat on a board, overlapping two to form an approximate 6×9 inch rectangle. Make 8 husk rectangles.

Divide the masa dough into 8 pieces. Form rectangular pillows and gently push 2 prawn halves onto each pillow. Place the tamales, prawns down, onto the husks and fold the husks over, envelope style. Place tamales in a steam rack, seem side down. Place the rack(s) over gently boiling water and cover well to keep the steam in. Steam for 20 minutes. Remove steamer racks from the heat to rest 5 minutes before serving.

Make the Salsa Ranchero:
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
3 Pasilla chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 Serrano chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
2# Roma tomatoes, roasted and chopped with their skins
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup water or chicken stock

Combine the onion, garlic and oil in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chilies, tomatoes, cilantro, salt and water. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

To serve:
Unwrap the tamales, discard the husks, and set tamales on plates surrounded by warm Salsa Ranchero. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

These tamales can be served either hot, room temperature or cold. They reheat well over steam so they can be made entirely ahead. Do not reheat in a microwave oven, however, as it toughens the tamales. Serve them as a brunch entrée, for lunch with a salad, or as an appetizer at dinner.  Serves 8

Inspired by Make Miller, Chef of Coyote Grill in Santa Fe, New Mexico


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