tamales de acelgas

tamales de acelgas swiss chard leaves being filled with masa

This dish tamales de acelgas, wrapped in swiss chard, called out to me from the chapter on tamales in my primary mexican cookbook, Diana Kennedy’s Art of Mexican Cooking. The pork filling combines sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and umami in a marvelous balance that is definitely Mexican, but as she notes, hints of the middle east (raisins! almonds!) but I would say also of southeast asia (one can imagine adding lemongrass, some ginger and lime; switching the pasillas for bird chiles, and passing it off as Malaysian).

Tamales de acelgas pork raisin filling

I had made the filling before, but we were impatient, and ended up filling masa balls and deep frying them (yum). This time, however, I blanched the swiss chard, spread it with the mixed dough (fresh masa, btw, from a Pilsen tortilla factory), and carefully rolled up the leaves around it and set them in the steamer for a very long time. I am certain that I spread it too thick and made them too large, but I only had 10 large leaves. Nevertheless, the tamales are marvelous – especially for lunch the next day(s) – but the filling is so good on its own, and so easy, in the future I will probably just make a pile of tortillas and serve it as tacos.

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