This is a variation of a recipe for fresh corn tamales that comes from Stephan Pyles’ The New Texas Cuisine. In the Nineties in Dallas, Stephan Pyles was The chef that everyone talked about. In the last year or two that I was there, he opened Star Canyon on the edge of the Cedar Springs neighborhood, quite near where I lived at the time. I dreamed of going there, but since I was a student then and had no money, it seemed constantly out of reach. When I graduated from school, my parents took me to the restaurant as a treat. What an experience!
Many of the recipes in The New Texas Cuisine were things that got served at the restaurant. This one takes me back to a younger time when I was thin and had more hair! Ah, the good old days!
The version from the book is without filling. I happened to have a bunch of ugly shitake mushrooms as well as some left-over brie from a dinner party sitting around on the day that I made these tamales. The ‘shrooms and the cheese added an earthy, nutty flavor to the sweet corn. This is really good and surprisingly easy to make. I was worried about shaping the tamales and keeping them properly wrapped. This proved to be fairly simple, really. I’d definitely make this again.
fresh corn tamales stuffed with shitake mushrooms and brie
2 ears sweet corn
8 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 cup masa harina
2/3 cup cornmeal (I used quick cooking polenta)
¼ tsp cayenne powder
¼ tsp cumin
¾ tsp salt plus
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup warm water
14 dried corn husks
2 to 3 oz. brie
½ cup shitake mushrooms, washed and sliced into very thin strips
Begin by soaking corn husks in a large pot of water for about thirty to 45 minutes.
Fill large steamer with water and set on stove to reach boiling.
While doing above, sauté mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and salt. Once they have become tender, set aside to cool.
Cut corn from cobs. In a food processor, pulverize half the fresh corn until a smooth paste.
Using a hand mixer, whisk vegetable shortening until light. In a separate bowl, combine masa harina, cornmeal, cayenne, cumin, salt and baking powder. Then gradually add warm water to the dry ingredients to form the dough. Whisk the dough into the shortening. Fold in ground and whole corn kernels.
Drain corn husks and pat dry. Tear two into about a dozen long strips to use for tying tamales. With remaining twelve husks, lay them in pairs so that the wide parts of the husks overlap one another by about two inches. Divide dough evenly to make six tamales. Poke holes in each tamale and stuff with some sautéed shitake and brie. Cover stuffing with dough.
To close tamales, carefully roll the corn husks around filling. Twist each end and tie shut with a strip of corn husk. Place tamales in steamer and steam, covered, for 35 to 45 minutes.
I served these with pico de gallo and smoky ancho salsa.