Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Black Bean Tamal with Chile Pasilla

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 18-24 tamales
This black bean tamal with chile pasilla is delicious and a great addition to your Mexican inspired holiday menu!

This simple and delicious recipe for a black bean tamal with chile pasilla will soon become one of your family's favorite. Preparing tamales has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. My absolute favorites are tamales prepared with beans. My family's traditional bean tamal is filled with  spicy, thick pinto beans and a strip of pickled jalapeño. Today's black bean tamal recipe was inspired by some tasty tamales I enjoyed in Texas a few years back.  Instead of the beans added to the center of the tamal, they are folded into the masa dough itself. This is a great recipe if you are making tamales for the first time.


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  1. Place corn husk in hot water. Use a heavy bowl to weigh them down for soaking. The longer they soak, the better.
  2. In a large bowl, combine masa/harina, baking powder and salt. Gradually mix in the warm chicken broth until a soft dough forms. If it seems too dry, mix in a little more broth. Keep masa covered.
  3. In small sauce pan add manteca (lard) or shortening and heat just until melted. Mix the melted manteca into the masa dough.
  4. Mix for a few minutes, until masa has a sponge-like texture. If masa seems too thick add a little more chicken broth. You want a masa that spreads like a thick frosting. Taste the masa for salt. Fold in beans until well incorporated. Then fold in the chile pasilla. The chiles will add some color to the tamales.
  5. Keep masa covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap until ready to use. If not using right away, cover tightly and store in refrigerator for one to two days.
  6. Shake excess water off of corn husk. Using your hands or a spoon, add 4-5 tablespoons of masa to the center of the husk. It should resemble a fat cigar. Fold in the sides, then fold top flap down. Place the tamales, open side up, in a steamer pot that is filled with water at the bottom. Make sure tamales are peeking above the water line.
  7. If you have extra corn husks, arrange them around the tamales to keep them upright while they steam. Cover the pot and heat on high until it begins to steam vigorously. Reduce heat and steam for 90 minutes. Keep a sauce pan of hot water on the burner to add more water to pot after 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish tamales with your favorite salsa.

Chef Notes

Add some different flavors to this tasty tamal with a strip of queso Oaxaca, fresco or ranchero to the masa's center before steaming. Cool tamales completely before freezing in an airtight container. To reheat, defrost and steam in a covered casserole dish in the microwave for 6-8 minutes.

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