Because tamales are so closely associated with the winter holidays in Texas, we don't often think of tamales as a summertime food, in part because of the amount of time it takes to steam them in a large pot of boiling water, which can quickly heat up a kitchen.
But if you're using a multicooker or electric pressure cooker, you can steam tamales without creating so much excess heat when the air conditioning is already working overtime. Even better, you can incorporate the flavors of summer with a recipe like these sweet corn tamales, inspired by the traditional uchepos of Michoacán.
Emily Sunwell-Vidaurri and Rudy Vidaurri, the authors of "Amazing Mexican Favorites with Your Instant Pot: 80 Tacos, Burritos, Fajitas and Other Flavor-Packed Recipes" (Page Street Publishing, $17.99), share the instructions in their new book for making these tamales dulces, which they serve with berries and whipped cream. Fresh sweet corn can be quite sweet on its own, so if you want to make these more on the savory side, reduce or omit the honey, and serve with red or green salsa.
Sweet Corn Tamales
These sweet corn tamales or “uchepos,” native to the Mexican state of Michoacán, are my favorite. They remind me of the sweet corn cake that I enjoyed at Mexican restaurants as a young girl. They can be enjoyed as a snack, a side dish or even for breakfast!
20 dried cornhusks
Hot filtered water for soaking cornhusks
6 cups sweet corn kernels
1 cup butter or ghee, softened
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups masa harina, fine cornmeal or corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh berries and whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
Rinse the cornhusks, place them in a large dish and cover them with very hot filtered water, making sure they are fully submerged. Set aside.
Working in batches, add the corn kernels to a food processor and pulse until the corn is roughly grated, making sure it has some texture, but is not fully puréed.
In a standing mixer bowl or large bowl with a hand mixer, add the butter or ghee and honey, mixing on medium speed until the mixture is whipped. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the masa harina, fine cornmeal or corn flour, corn kernels, baking powder and salt, then very slowly add 1 cup water and mix until the dough becomes soft and sticky.
Create a flat workspace on your counter or table and line up all the tamal ingredients — the husks and filling. Have a clean kitchen towel by your workspace. Flip the cornhusks over so the one that soaked on the bottom is now on the top and ready to use. Using the towel, wipe off the excess moisture on five cornhusks, then place them on your flat work surface. Spread a heaping about 3 tablespoons of the sweet corn masa in a layer in the middle of each cornhusk, with the edge of the filling going all the way to the larger end of the cornhusk. Gently fold up the cornhusks, folding the sides of the husks toward the center, then fold the narrow end of the husk up, leaving the top open. Repeat until all the tamales are filled.
Place a steamer basket in the Instant Pot. Pour 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot. Add as many tamales as you can to the Instant Pot, letting them stand vertically, not horizontally. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the steam release valve is sealed. Press the “Steam” button and set for 20 minutes.
When the Instant Pot is done and beeps, press “Keep Warm/Cancel.” Allow it to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Using an oven mitt, “quick release” to open the steam-release valve. When the steam venting stops and the silver dial drops, carefully open the lid.
Serve the hot tamales in their wrappers. Garnish with fresh berries and whipped cream, if using. Makes 20 tamales.
— From "Amazing Mexican Favorites with Your Instant Pot: 80 Tacos, Burritos, Fajitas and Other Flavor-Packed Recipes" by Emily Sunwell-Vidaurri and Rudy Vidaurri (Page Street Publishing, $17.99)