I believe Amelia (Common Ground deli manager extraordinaire) when she says tamales aren’t that much work… if you make them with a friend (or co-worker, in her case).
I’ve made the latest batch on my own, and if took much less time than it did a few years ago when I made them for the first time. After rolling about 30-40 of them, I can see how boredom would set in. I had enough stamina to last through about one package of husks.
Here is a video that’s as close to my favorite rolling technique as I’ve seen. I prefer to leave more space (1/2 inch?) from the open “top” of the tamale since the dough expands when cooked. I like this method because there’s no tying involved. If you fill your steamer with tamales standing on the closed end, they will stay closed.
The dough recipe I used comes from Veganomicon. I used canola oil instead of corn oil, which turned out alright. The ingredients are simple and quick to mix.
My filling was a simple mixture of coarsely-mashed pinto beans, baked and diced sweet potatoes, tomato paste, cumin, and ground chipotle peppers. Next time, I’ll make smaller batches of a variety of fillings. I’ll also use double the amount of chipotle (2 dried peppers, freshly ground, with most of the seeds) since the relatively bland dough mutes the filling’s flavors. If you try your filling by itself and it seems spicy enough, it won’t be once it’s inside the tamales. Add more spice.
The “sauce” for these tamales was Green Pumpkin Seed Mole from Veganomicon. I used fresh roasted tomatillos instead of canned – about 5 tomatillos, but I think it could have used 7 or 8. I like tomatillos a lot, and they’re so easy to use. I’ll be making green sauces more often!
To roast the tomatillos, remove the paper skins, rinse, cut in half horizontally, and broil on a lightly-oiled sheet pan until some black spots appear.
This mole also makes a good spread for sandwiches or dip for fresh vegetables. Like any other Veganomicon recipe, it makes a ton – so enjoy the leftovers.
Tamales freeze very well and work great for packed lunches. Toss them into a bag or container, and either re-steam or microwave in their husks to reheat.