Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

Story by Holly
Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce
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When sitting down with Natalie to plan our Modern Proper Thanksgiving menu, we wanted to offer something on the table that was unexpected, but not totally in left field. When tamales were brought up we both knew we had found it. They certainly aren't traditional Thanksgiving fare, but by tweaking what you put inside them, they become a rustic and soulfully satisfying addition to everyone’s favorite meal of the year. As much as I love enjoying all the foods I've come to expect on Thanksgiving, mixing it up just a bit makes the meal more fun to prepare, and provides new flavors for the standbys to shine with and against (some flavor contrast, if you will).


The pumpkin makes perfect sense, of course, on any Thanksgiving table, but that chipotle and bright tomatillo and avocado sauce are exciting and unexpected additions you'll love having.

Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to make tamales, your time has arrived. They are tender, hearty, and fantastically versatile. Whether you serve them as an appetizer or part of a gluten free or vegetarian feast, they are sure to steal the show.

Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

I first made tamales a few years back for my daughter’s birthday party. It was for a crowd of over 50 (don't kid’s parties seem to start huge and then get smaller as the years go on?). Making tamales for that many people my first go at it was challenging for sure, but it was also an inexpensive and delicious way to amp up the party menu. They were a big hit. I attributed the success of the tamales to my many hours of research finding the perfect fail-proof recipe, and the advanced party prep I had done to make it all possible. I've since come to realize (after making them several times over the last few years) they really are just very easy and hard to mess up if you follow the directions, so I can't give myself too much credit. I can however, along with Natalie, take a tiny bit of credit for how delicious this chipotle pumpkin filling and tomatillo avocado sauce is. The pumpkin makes perfect sense, of course, on any Thanksgiving table, but that chipotle and bright tomatillo and avocado sauce are exciting and unexpected additions you'll love having.

Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

As an added bonus these tamales are pretty enough to be decorations on your table wrapped in their signature corn husks. They can be made well in advance and freeze beautifully, making them a great item to prepare ahead of the hustle and bustle of the holiday.

We are considering that we might just have a new Thanksgiving tradition: getting together with good friends and making these beauties the weekend before the big day. Tamales and cocktails...sounds about right. I think I'll make it official.

Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

Chipotle Pumpkin Tamales with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

Ingredients

1 package dried corn husk
2 1/2 cups masa flour mix
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups libby's canned pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce (sauce only)
1 (12 oz) wheel of cotija cheese, crumbled

Tomatillo Avocado Sauce

1 medium avocado
2 large tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 tsp lime juice
1 small clove of garlic, roughly chopped

Method

  1. In a deep dish, layer the dried corn husks and pour boiling over the top. Allow to sit for 45-50 minutes, until soft and pliable.
  2. In a large sauce pan, warm stock until steaming. Add shortening and stir until melted. While stirring add salt, chipotle sauce and pumpkin puree.
  3. Once smooth slowly add the masa flour, whisking constantly to avoid any clumping. Let the mixture cool slightly while making the sauce.
  4. In a small sauce pan, bring water to a boil and carefully add whole tomatillos. Boil for 10 minutes until you notice the bright green turn slightly brown.
  5. Place the cooked tomatillos, avocado, salt, cilantro leaves, jalapeno, lime juice and garlic into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until a sauce forms and is the consistency of a squeezable condiment like ketchup. refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Working with one corn husk at a time, take ¼ cup of the pumpkin cornmeal filling and spread it on the corn husk. Placement matters, so take care in how you do this part. Beginning 1 inch down from the wide part of the husk (this will become the opening of the tamale) and ending at least 1 ½ inches from the bottom (the part of the tamale that is very narrow and comes to a point), leaving a 1 ½ inch border on either side (to ensure you have enough husk to wrap around the filling.
  7. Make a vertical dent down the fillings center and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cotija cheese.
  8. Carefully pull sides of corn husks together above the center of the filling and press in slightly. The purpose here is to wrap the filling around the cheese, so that the cheese becomes inside portion of the tamale. Fold the husk to the right, wrapping them snugly around the bod of the tamale. Fold the end (tail) part up and secure it with a piece of twine.
  9. Once all the husks are filled fill a large pot fitted with a steaming basket with a few inches of water. Make sure the water is not touching the tamales. Place all the tamales, upright into the steaming basket making sure the opening of each tamale is at the top of the pot. If your pot is too big, and your tamales are falling over, place an inverted bowl in the pot and tightly gather tamales around the bowl.
  10. Steam tamales for 35 minutes. When tamales are done steaming take them out of the steaming basket and let them stand for 15 minutes before serving. This will ensure that the corn husks cleanly pulls away from the tamale.
  11. Serve with tomatillo sauce and more cotija cheese on top.