Photograph by Will Anderson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Swiss Chard Tamale

Starters from Issue 4 – Fall / Winter 2014 – Cocoon

The act of assembling tamales—spreading the masa, spooning in the filling, tying them like a gift—is as revered a ritual as eating them.

makes 10 tamales

  • 30 dried corn husks
  • 2 small poblanos
  • 1 jalapeño
  • cup plus 1 Tbsp lard, divided
  • ½ medium white onion, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch swiss chard, leaves and stems separated, and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco (about 2 oz)
  • 2 cups masa (instant corn masa flour)
  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1

    Set a pot of boiling water off heat and soak husks, weighted down with a plate, 30 minutes. Broil poblanos and jalapeño until blackened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Steam 10-15 minutes then peel, stem, seed, and finely chop.

  • 2

    Heat 1 Tbsp lard in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft. Add chard stems and cook until soft. Add chard leaves and cook until just wilted. Cool, then stir in peppers, cilantro, and cheese. Season to taste.

  • 3

    Whisk together masa and salt. Add 1½ cups of hot water and remaining ⅔ cup lard. Mix well.

  • 4

    Drain husks and rinse well with cold water. Fill a large pot fitted with a steamer basket with water up to the bottom of steamer. Line steamer with some smaller husks.

  • 5

    Choose the 12 largest husks. Place ¼ cup of dough into center of each husk’s smooth side and flatten until about ¼-inch. Add 2 Tbsp filling to center, then carefully bring up the bottom to fold in half, then fold in sides. Tie with a thin strip of husk to make a bundle. Repeat.

  • 6

    Bring steamer to a simmer. Layer in tamales, slightly overlapping. Top with remaining husks and cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam until masa separates easily from a husk and dough is tender, about 40 minutes.