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tamal montezuma

August 19, 2012

This week is a big one. My bedroom is in the midst of a packing frenzy for Iceland – sweaters, colored pencils, scarves, notebooks, film canisters, and smart wool socks have barfed all over my floor. Should I upload the audiobook of Game of Thrones or Seating Arrangements to my iPhone? What about my unfinished knitting project? And how am I supposed to choose which analog camera/s to bring?

Eh, such taxing decisions can wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, a few nibbles for you to chew on. My crafty girl M just started up a blog on all-things DIY that’s worth a peek. And a couple friends and I are starting up a food swap in DC. Check out our sassy website here. And last but not least, a recipe to get you through the week and through your stockpile of summer squash. I bring you… dum dum dum… tamal montezuma, or more affectionately known as Mexican-lasagna-goes-bang!

tamal montezuma

adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen

for tomato chipotle sauce:
1 can chipotles in adobo (I used 6 chipotles for medium heat – use more or less depending on your tastes)
1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled (about 12 cloves)
4 lbs. (or 2 28 oz. cans) ripe tomatoes
3 poblano peppers (or bell peppers, or mixture of both)
olive oil

for casserole:
6 cups (about 12 oz.) loosely packed spinach
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 ears corn, husked, kernels cut from the cob
1 lb. shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua) or Monterey Jack
16 corn tortillas, preferably small, slightly stale factory-made ones

Start by making the sauce. If you have a gas stove, turn a burner on high and using a pair of tongs, scald each pepper on each side until the entire pepper is black. If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast the peppers in the oven on a baking sheet set at 425, to get the same effect. After roasting the peppers, put them in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let the peppers sweat for 15-30 minutes while you’re preparing the rest of the sauce.

In a dry skillet (no oil), roast the unpeeled garlic for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the sides are dark brown and the garlic is soft. Remove from heat and let them cool.

If using fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, drop them immediately into an ice water bath, then peel and chop them up. Read more on peeling tomatoes.

Peel the poblano/bell peppers. Their skins should come right off – I usually peel them under cool running water, which makes it a little easier. Chop the peppers.

In a large pot or dutch oven, combine tomatoes (fresh or canned), chipotles, the peeled roasted garlic, and peppers. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Blend using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Season with salt.

Steam the spinach greens for 3 minutes, and chop them up.

Steam the diced zucchini for 3 minutes, mix the greens together, and toss with a little salt.

Set out the corn, tomato sauce, greens, and cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Flash fry the tortillas on each side in oil for a couple seconds until soft, drain on paper towels, and cut them in half. Layer in baking dish:

8 tortilla halves
greens, 1 1/2 cups sauce, 1 cup cheese
8 tortilla halves
all of the corn, 1 1/2 cups sauce, 1 cup cheese
8 tortilla halves
greens, sauce, cheese
8 tortilla halves
sauce, cheese

Lightly cover the tamal with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more until bubbling and lightly browned. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Keeps well in the fridge for several days.

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