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You say tamale, we say tamale! According to Jessie Snyder of Faring Well, the only way tamales get better is by campfire, and we're just going to believe her on this one.

The corn husk wrapper makes these super easy to pack, and they only take ten minutes of steaming to reheat for a hearty campsite meal. With a little prep time at home beforehand, you’ll be set for some delicious grub after a day of adventuring. Feel free to get creative with the fillings and toppings, mine here are just some of many options to explore!


(Recipe yields 16 large or 24 smaller tamales)
red sauce:
-2 cups roasted tomato sauce
-3 ancho chili peppers dried
-1/2 cup diced yellow onion
-5 large cloves of garlic minced
-1 teaspoon pink salt
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-3/4 cup water

masa dough:
-4 cups masa de harina
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup coconut oil melted
-4 to 6 cups veggie broth 

-1 cup french lentils dry
-3 cups veggie broth or water
-corn husks for wrapping

-1 bunch parsley stems removed, leaves chopped
-1 bunch cilantro stems removed, leaves chopped
-1 large garlic clove
-2 tablespoons pickled hot chilies
-2 tablespoons pickling liquid
-1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil
-juice from half a lemon
-salt and pepper to taste


At Home:                                                                                                     

1) Begin by cooking the lentils. Combine the lentils and broth, or water, in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let cook for about 35 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed by the lentils. Turn off the heat and let sit, still covered, for 15 minutes.

2) While the lentils are cooking bring a smaller pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and place the dried ancho chilli peppers in the pot, submerging them as best you can and re-cover with the lid. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through, to rehydrate and soften. Then slice in half, remove the stems and seeds, and place in a blender. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the blender and puree until smooth. Take a taste and add any additional seasonings that you desire at this point.

3) In a large bowl combine the lentils and red sauce, set aside. Fill another large mixing bowl with hot water and submerge a few cornhusks at a time to soften. In a third large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the masa and stir in the coconut oil and veggie broth. The consistency should be that of cookie dough. If it is too dry, add an additional tablespoon of veggie broth at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

4) Ready to get wrapping!? Brace yourself, I struggled to adequately describe my methods here:
I made my tamales a good size, using two cornhusks per tamale. I laid the fatter ends overlapping each other with the pointy ends pointing away from one another (super technical terms- feel free to use them!). Then I spread the masa all the way across width-wise, and up and down to form a large square in the centre about 1/4 inch thick. I then spooned about 2-3 tablespoons of the lentil + red sauce mixture into the centre. Lifting up one side of the husk at a time, I folded the masa mixture over the filling, separating it from the husk until my filling was totally wrapped in a rectangle shaped blanket of masa in the centre of the two husks. I then folded over each side of the husks and then the top and bottom pointy ends over one another.
**You can leave it at this point and place the folded side down when cooking if you wish. I decided to take one of the soaked tamale husks and tear it into strips and use these to tie around each of the tamales to secure them closed (like in the picture above). This is not a pretty or perfect ordeal. Things will get messy and they will not be uniform - embrace the chaos!**

5) If you own a roasting pan, pre-heat your oven to 400 F. Lay the wrapped tamales on the rack in your roasting pan and fill the bottom of the pan with about 2 cups of water, making sure the water does not reach the tamales. Cover the top of the pan tightly with aluminum foil and steam- bake them for about 35-45 minutes (or until firm to the touch). 
If you're like me and do not own a roasting pan, get out a large pot and place a steamer basket at the bottom. Fill with 1/2 cup of water or so, and start layering your tamales on top of one another (or at a slant if they fit standing up). I could only fit about 8 of my larger tamales in my pot, leaving me with enough extra filling and dough to roll 8 more afterwards or the next day.

6) Cover and place on the stove to steam. Cook on medium to medium-low heat for an hour or so, checking halfway through to make sure there is still water simmering to steam (if not, add some more water). You will know that the tamales are done when they are nice and firm. Keep in mind that if you're layering the tamales on top of one another the ones at the bottom will cook faster.
Check them after 35-40 minutes or so and if they are firm remove them and place the ones that were on top back in the pot to continue steaming.

7) Remove the tamales from the pot when they have fully cooked and lay out to cool. If eating right away, let them cool and set for about 15 minutes before serving. If cooling to store away and eat at another time, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheat by steaming in a pot on the stove for 10 minutes before serving. If freezing, place in a freezer safe ziplock bag in the freezer for up to one month. 
When ready to eat, transfer frozen tamales to the refrigerator to fully thaw before reheating. Steam them on the stove for 10 minutes before serving. Similarly, do the same over a low burning fire in the woods when you go camping. Simply pack the tamales in a cooler when you leave for your trip, and steam over the fire to reheat when ready to serve!

8) For the chimichurri sauce, simply add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth or semi-chunky (consistency is up to you). Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 4 to 5 days. This can also be packed in a cooler for your camping trip.

Tag #campgrub to show us how you make GOOD FOOD in the great outdoors!

More camp inspired good eats  // GOOD FOOD

Photography and recipe by: Jessie Snyder of Faring Well

Jessie Snyder is a plant based recipe maker based in sunny southern California. She enjoys going on adventures with her best friend and husband Scott, and creating healthy recipes which she shares on her blog, Faring Well 



Lita Waston said:

You shouldn’t take many great pictures about tamales because it makes me hungry a lot. Your post looks very lively and careful. Thank for giving instructions in details, Jessie.

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