It’s time for another tamale recipe! I don’t know about you, but I love making tamales. Some people enjoy spending a couple of hours making a cake, but me, I’d rather spend it making tamales. These Black Bean Tamales are made with black beans, a little onion, sweet pepper, and a chipotle seasoned masa. For this batch, I used canola oil, but I’ve also used melted butter. I quit using lard in my tamales years ago.
If you’ve seen my other tamales recipes you know that I prefer to mix the filling in with the masa rather than apply them separately. It makes the assembly process much easier and faster. It only takes about an hour to make the filling and the masa, and to assemble the tamales. Once that’s done, you just place the tamales in a steamer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, and go relax, read a book, have a beer.
Three suggestions for serving these vegan black bean tamales:
- Serve them right out of the steamer. There’s nothing much better than a steaming, moist tamale, and these are no exception. Serve with this complementary salad – Orange and Cabbage Slaw.
- Serve them with a little red chile sauce. However, don’t smother them. The chile sauce would overpower the flavor of these tamales and you certainly wouldn’t want to do that. Just drizzle a little red chile over the black bean tamales. That’s all you need.
- Last, but certainly least, serve them with a spicy mango sauce. We all know that mango and black beans is a marvelous combination; therefore, a spicy mango sauce is a perfect match for these black bean tamales. Below is a recipe for a spicy mango sauce made with pickled chile peppers.
Black Bean Tamales with Chipotle Masa Recipe
Recipe author: MJ of MJ’s Kitchen
Makes 12 – 15 tamales
Prep and Cook Time: 2.5 hours
24 corn husks
1 T. oil
½ cup minced onion
½ cup minced red sweet pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ – 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed*
2 cups hot broth (or 1 cup hot water + 1 cup hot broth)*
1 ½ tsp. chipotle flakes*
2 cups masa harina
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. Mexican oregano, crushed
¼ canola oil or butter (melted)*
Chilled Spicy Mango Sauce (see recipe below)
Fresh Cilantro, minced
*See Kitchen Notes
Corn Husk prep – Lay the corn husks in a flat casserole dish. Cover with boiling water. Weigh down with something that helps to submerge the husks in the water. Set aside and let husks rehydrate.
Masa liquid prep – Add the chipotle flakes to 2 cups hot broth/water. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the red pepper, onion, and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the beans, stir to combine and heat through. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the masa harina, salt, baking powder and oregano.
- Add the canola oil and broth/chipotle liquid.
- Whisk to combine. Masa should have a soft cookie dough texture.
- Add the black bean mixture and stir to incorporate the vegetables into the masa.
Assembly of tamales
- Select one of the narrow corn husks to create tamales ties. Tear the husk into thin strips about 1/4 inch wide.
- Pull a corn husk from the water and let it drain. Using a spatula, place about 1/2 cup tamale mixture lengthwise down the center on the wide half of the husk. (You’ll be folding the husk in half once they have been rolled so don’t go too far down the husk.)
- Fold one side of the husk over the filling then roll to the other end of the husk. You should have a tapered cigar looking shape.
- Fold the lower, unfilled portion of the husk up and on top of the filled half. Wrap one of the ties around the tamale to hold the tamale closed.
- Repeat until the filling is gone.
Steaming the tamales
- Place some of the extra corn husks around the sides of the steamer.
- Place the tamales in the steamer, standing on the closed ends. If the tamales do not fill the steamer enough to stand up relatively straight, use extra corn husks to separate the tamales and help them to stand up.
- Place a couple of corn husks on top of the tamales. This keeps water from the lid from dipping into the open ends of the tamales.
- Place the lid on tight and steam the tamales for an hour.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove one of the tamales and let sit another 2-3 minutes.
- Test a tamale by opening it up. If the husk doesn’t pull away from the steamed dough, then steam the tamales for another 15 minutes and test again.
To serve – Spread some of the Spicy Mango Sauce on a plate, sprinkle with fresh cilantro, then place the tamales on the sauce. Enjoy!
Black Beans – I always make my own black beans from dried beans, but if you don’t want to go that route, use canned beans. One 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed usually yields about 1 ½ cups which is just enough for this recipe.
Broth – A good broth or stock can add quite a bit of flavor to the masa mixture. I usually use 1 cup chicken or vegetarian broth plus 1 cup water. For tamales I use a bouillon base that a friend turned me on to. If you haven’t used Better Than Bouillon soup bases, you really should check them out. These are great for quick little needs like this.
Chipotle Flakes – Chipotle powder is usually easier to find in local markets that the flakes. So if you only have the powder, you can substitute with 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon of powder. I find the powder hotter, so you might start with 1 teaspoon powder and then after you combine the vegetables with the masa, taste it. If it’s not hot enough, add some more. You could also use 2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce. If you do, add them to the bean mixture, not the masa liquid to prevent turning your masa brown (an aesthetic thing).
Canola Oil or butter – If you’re vegan, then this isn’t a question – canola oil. However, melted real butter works just as good as canola oil. If you compare a tamale made with canola oil vs. butter, you might see a little difference in texture as well as a slight difference in taste. The main difference comes in reheating the tamales. I have found that tamales made with canola oil don’t dry out as much and freeze better than those made with butter and definitely, than those made with lard.
Spicy Mango Sauce Recipe
Recipe author: MJ of MJ’s Kitchen
Prep and Cook Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 2 cups
2 cups ripe mango*, diced
Juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 T. Pickled chile peppers, minced**
1 T. Pickled chile pepper vinegar**
1 tsp. honey or other sweetener (optional)
1/8 tsp. red chile powder
2 dashes smoked paprika
- Toss the mango with the lime juice. Transfer to a sauce pan and pureé using an immersion blender.
- Heat the mango pureé over medium low heat. Once it starts to boil (be careful, it’s thick so it will splatter), add the onion, pickled peppers, vinegar and honey. Continue to heat until onion is soft.
- Using the immersion blender, pulse the pureé a few more times to incorporate the onion and peppers even more into the sauce.
- Add the red chile powder and a couple dashes of smoked paprika.
- Transfer to a refrigerator container and chill.
*This is a good recipe for using overripe mangoes. Do not use green mangoes.
**If you don’t have pickled chile peppers, like jalapeno, then substitute, fresh chile, minced fine. For the pickled pepper vinegar you could substitute rice vinegar.
NOTE: This does make a very thick sauce. If you want it thinner, add a little liquid (e.g., water, mango juice, orange juice)
If you like these Black Bean Tamales with a Spicy Mango Sauce, then you would probably enjoy my other tamales.