Recipe: Make Yoel Cruz’s Fresh Corn Tamales


What better way to bid the corn season farewell than with a batch of fresh corn tamales? North Square chef Yoel Cruz makes fresh corn tamales daily, serving them with grilled mushrooms and tortilla strips. He shares a home cook’s version accompanied by a couple of easy sauces to give your tamales extra kick.

Fresh Corn Tamales

Yield: 12-15 tamales

For the tamales:

8 ears of fresh corn, silk removed and husks reserved
1 cup Masa Harina (corn flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 oz olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 white onion, sliced
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 jalapeno chile, sliced
3 sprigs fresh epazote (available at most Latin American markets)
3 oz butter
salt and black pepper, to taste

Shuck the corn, reserving the husks. Wash the husks and lay them flat in a dish of water to keep them moist. Remove the silk from the corn and cut the kernels off from the cobs, starting at the root. In a bowl, combine the Masa Harina, baking powder, and baking soda. In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic. Allow these to sweat for 3 minutes. Add the corn, and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, then add the epazote, and jalapeno. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend. Add the mixture back to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir in the dry mixture and cook for 8 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat, add butter, and season. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes, then divide and spoon it into the corn husks and fold.

Prepare a steamer and arrange the tamales, overlapping, in the steamer. Cover with foil, top with a damp cloth and steam for 25-30 minutes or until done. The husks will easily peel from the batter when done. If necessary, add more water to the steamer.

For the Creme Fraiche:
3 oz. creme fraiche
lime juice, to taste
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp cumin

In a bowl, combine the creme fraiche, cumin, salt, and lime juice.

For the Chile Sauce:
6 dried guajillo chiles, seeded (or 6 tsps ground gaujillo, or substitute for New Mexican chiles)
1 garlic clove
1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/2 tsp cumin
1 oz olive oil
salt, to taste

Soak the guajillo chiles in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Blend the soaked chiles, garlic clove, stock, cumin, and salt. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, and add the chile sauce. Keep the mixture warm.

To serve:
Place the tamales on plate, folding back half the corn husk on each tamal. Top with dollops of chile sauce and creme fraiche.