Saturday, January 21, 2012


Honestly, tamale challenge didn't get me excited. I ate tamale once, many years ago, it was bland, mushy, visually not appealing at all. So, I guess that's why I needed pull myself up together to the challenge. To find corn husks was a challenge by itself and I decided to make caribbean version of tamale using swiss chard as a wrapper. I've got "Swiss Chard & Pork Tamale" recipe off internet, tweaked it a bit and come up with a recipe below.

Swiss Chard & Pork Tamale

-1 lb pork fillet
-1 teaspoon cumin seeds
-1 teaspoon coriander seeds
-1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
-8 oz butter, melted and divided in two portions
-1 chipotle pepper in adobo with 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
-1 cup chicken stock
-1 cup instant masa
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-8 large swiss chard leaves, blanched
-2 prickly pears
-2 oz sherry vinegar
-zest of 2 oranges
-1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in thin ribbons
-peanut oil for frying
-some sour cream


-Cook pork in a little water, covered, until it's completely cooked to the "fall-apart" condition.
-In a dry frying pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Cool slightly, whirl in coffee/spice grinder to fine powder.
-Sautee sweet potato in a butter until fully cooked. Place it in a blender, add chicken stock, chipotle with adobo sauce and combine on a low speed until well incorporated.
-With a mixer running, slowly add masa, salt to taste and baking powder.
-Lay chard leaves on a chopping board. On a lower 1/3 of leaf, spread masa mix and top it with a shredded cooked pork. Sprinkle cumin/coriander powder on top. Roll up to form the tamale.
-Place tamales, seam side down, in a steamer. Add water to the steamer and steam for about 30-40 minutes until tamales are firm.
-Serve tamales with deep fried julienned sweet potato on top, dollop of sour cream on top and drops of pear coolie. To make pear coolie, stew prickle pear pieces with a couple tablespoons of water until soft, add butter and pinch of salt. Smash stewed pears through seive to get smooth sauce.

Recipe pictionary

Original recipe called for 4 chipotle peppers. That was what ruined my dish - final result was unbearably spicy even for me. My guess - if I would use just one pepper my tamales would be delicious. The recipe above is corrected to use one pepper.

This is roasted coriander and cumin seeds before I ground it. The difference in flavor between store-bought cumin powder (will all my love for it) and homemade powder just knocked me off. That's one of those great discoveries I make during challenges execution that I value and appreciate so much. So, HOMEMADE SPICE POWDERS ROCK!

Ground  cumin and coriander right from my coffee grinder.

Here is this weird prickly pear I used for coolie (like this fancy word!) to serve tamale with. Coolie is cooked sauce with a single basic ingredient. After cooking I ran sauce through seive to get smooth consistency.

Swiss chard and prettiest ever market oranges (still with leaves!)

Final masa stuffing.

Next pictures talk for itself.

Just random picture ...

Blog-checking lines: Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks hostess with the mostess! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!