Wednesday, January 6, 2010


In the Central Valley we enjoy the rich culturally infused presence of Mexican tradition. Holiday Tamales are but one of those traditions.  A full day is usually spent in holiday Tamale making.  An olive is always found in one - It is considered good luck to have them and bad luck if they are absent.

In omnivore times, a call was made to the Mexican bakery and orders placed for a fresh batch of specially prepared lard infused masa. Nothing in the world tastes quite like it. This Vegetarian Slow Cooker has no illusions. Tamales without lard will not result in any mystical food eating experience, but that doesn't mean we should give up entirely. I'm willing to have Tamales that are less than a religious experience, so long as they taste really good. Here is the first attempt.

The filling for this was inspired by a recipe on this blog.  My adaptation uses a lot more liquid and flavorings in filling and casings because there will not be a traditional mole.  The Masa was prepared according to the package instructions but modified as follows: Coconut oil was used instead of vegetable oil  and an  abundance of garlic and cumin were added since there would be no glorious flavor infusion from lard.

Instead of steaming these in a large water laden stock pot for an hour or more, the crock was used instead.  No water is required when steaming Tamales in the crock.  It takes about 6 hours. After the Tamales are prepared and rolled in the husks, load as many as you can stuff in the crock and walk away.  The house smells divine for hours, a small religious experience in and of itself.

Winner, Loser or Meh

These are sort of tasty.  On the dry side.  There will be attempts to make this better. They would benefit from some warm green sauce. They were crocked, and put right in the fridge overnight. Tasting occurred the next day.  These freeze well and the corn husk, left intact, is the perfect wrapping  for reheating in the microwave.


This makes enough to fill two 5 1/2-6 quart crocks, so halve the recipe if you only have a single large crock.


  • 8 oz bag dried corn husks, soaked in warm water for 1/2 an hour, leave in warm water while preparing
  • 5 lb bag masa, room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups stock, warm (I used Vegetable Better than Bouillon & water)
  • 1 Tbls plus 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbls salt
  • 1 Tbls plus 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbls baking powder
Working in a large bowl, use your hands to mix  all ingredients together except the corn husks.  Work ingredients in in small batches until everything is integrated evenly.  It will have the consistency of  sticky mashed potatoes when finished.

  • 2 bags Morningstar "chicken" strips, defrosted, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups large garlic stuffed green olives, each olive cut into 4th, garlic cut in half. (I bought mine from the Winco deli case)
  • reserve liquid from olives, about 1/2 cup
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained, reserve 1/4 cup liquid to mash half the beans and then add to other half
  • 2 fajita seasoning packet mixes
In a large bowl add the chicken strips , olives, garbanzo bean mixture.  Make fajita sauce according to packet instructions, but use the reserved olive liquid instead of water. Add to the bowl and mix well.


Take a warm wet corn husk from the water, spread golf ball sized ball of masa in the center.  Spread to between 1/8th and 1/4 inch thickness.  Add 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons filling.  Make sure a garlic segment and 1/2 an olive is in the middle.  Roll like a burrito.

When tamales are assembled,place in slow cooker.  Cook covered on high about 6 -8 hours.  Test for doneness by peeling back husk to see if masa will completely separate cleanly from husk.

1 comment:

  1. Your crock pot didn't crack or anything after having it on all night without water?