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Don't be surprised if you eat a dozen; tiny green corn tamales are a summer treat in new and old Mexico.

In the Southwest and Mexico, an abundant supply of ripening sweet summer corn signals the time for a special treat: green corn tamales.

The tamales aren't literally green--they get that name because they cook in their own green husks. You cut the tender, golden kernels from the cob, grind and season them, then encase this mixture in the fresh husks to steam.

Mild in flavor and slightly sweet, these fresh corn tamales taste like a delicate corn pudding. Unlike conventional tamales made with thick, spreadable dried corn masa and soaked, dried corn husks, the corn mixture is quite soft (the natural starches of the corn firm somewhat with heat) and the green husks have a bit of spring. Because of this, it's difficult to use more than one section of husk at a time, limiting the filling to one- or two-bite portions. When served as the focus of a meal, these tamales tend to be consumed in large quantities.

You can flavor the corn with cheese and chilies, or raisins and cinnamon. Serve tamales hot, either plain or with condiments such as sour cream, butter, or salsa. We give directions for making 3 dozen or 30 dozen tamales. Anticipating that each guest will eat 6 to 12 tamales, you can serve 3 to 6 with the smaller amount, or 30 to 60 with the larger amount.

As a seasonal event, Kathleen and Jeffrey Hamilton of Tuscon gather friends for a green corn tamalada (tamale-making party). The Hamiltons set the 30-dozen goal for their 8- to 10-person team. After about 3 hours of labor, speeded by many hands, the feast is on. Leftovers go home with guests, to be reheated for later meals (the tamales freeze well).

This recipe uses corn from the garden or market; the Hamiltons make a firmer variation using field corn (feed corn) that is normally dried for storage.

You may need all the husks, so buy totally unhusked ears. Ears vary in size; as a buying guide we give both the number of ears and approximate weight; your goal is to have a specific amount of cut kernels. Green corn tamalada Green Corn Tamales Sour Cream Butter Salsa Grilled Steak Slices Sliced Tomatoes Cilantro Pinto Beans Hot Cooked Rice Ice Cream or Flan Limeade, Iced Tea, or Beer

While the tamales steam, start the barbecue and cook a thick steak. Slice the tomatoes and garnish with cilantro. Beans can be made the day before; as they cook, season them with a little smoked ham, ham hocks, salt pork, or bacon. Rice is optional, but it's a Mexican favorite. Green Corn Tamales with Cheese and Chilies

5 to 7 ears (4 to 5 lbs.) unhusked corn

1/4 cup melted lard

2 teaspoons sugar About 3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup shredded Longhorn Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup (half of a 4-oz. can) canned diced green chilies, or canned whole green chilies cut in thin slivers

With a strong, sharp knife or cleaver, cut through husk, corn, and cob, removing about 1/4 inch of the cob on both ends of each ear.

Peel off husks without tearing them; rinse if soiled. To keep moist, put in plastic bags and seal; set aside. Pull silk from corn and discard; rinse corn.

With a knife or a corn scraper, cut kernels from cobs; you need 4 cups lightly packed. Force corn through the fine blade of a food chopper, or whirl in a food processor until finely ground. Mix with lard and sugar; add salt to taste.

Stir cheese and diced chilies into corn (or reserve to add when shaping tamales). To shape each tamale, place 1-1/3 tablespoons of the cheese-corn filling in center and near stem (firmer) end of a large single husk (or place 1 tablespoon plain corn filling on husk and add 1 teaspoon cheese and 1 or 2 slivers of chili.) Fold one side of husk over to completely cover filling, then fold the other side over the top. Fold up flexible end to seal in filling. Gently stack tamales, folded end down, in a steamer; support them against other tamales so ends stay shut.

(If you run out of large husks, you can use 2 narrow inner husks, overlapped.)

Steam tamales in a 5- to 6-quart covered pan on a rack just above about 1 inch of rapidly boiling water. You can fill pan to capacity with tamales, stacking, but they should be loosely fitted into steamer so the heat can circulate. Steam until tamales in center are set to touch (not runny--pull one out and unwrap to test), about 1 hour. Add boiling water to pan as required to maintain water level. Serve tamales hot; you can keep them warm over hot water for several hours. To freeze, cool thoroughly, then place in a single layer on baking sheets; when frozen solid, transfer to plastic bags and store in the freezer up to 6 months. To reheat, let thaw, then steam (see directions above) until hot through, about 15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen tamales, or 3 to 6 servings.

Spiced green corn tamales. Instead of cheese and chilies, stir into corn 3/4 cup raisins and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Thirty dozen green corn tamales

Follow directions for green corn tamales with cheese and chilies, preceding, but use 10 quarts lightly packed corn kernels (start with about 45 lbs. or about 6 dozen ears of corn), 1 pound melted lard, 6 tablespoons sugar, 1-2/3 tablespoons salt or to taste, 1-1/2 pounds shredded Longhorn cheddar cheese, and 5 cans diced green chilies (4-oz. size).

Steam tamales until the ones in the center of the pan are set to touch (not runny). Cook half the tamales at a time in a 6-gallon pan; allow about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Or steam in batches of 3 to 4 dozen in 5- to 6-quart pans; allow about 1 hour.

Thirty dozen spiced green corn tamales. Instead of using cheese and green chilies for 30 dozen tamales, add to the ground corn 7 cups raisins and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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