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Butternut Squash Tamales

Entree, Recipes

Chad Lavely creates separate menus for the Granville Inn tavern and dining room, which gives him the chance to try out new ideas. And while he’s the first to assert that there’s nothing like a good butternut squash soup, he’s also eager to challenge conventional preparations. “We’ll incorporate it into a risotto … just to add depth, another layer of flavor,” he says. “We’ll do a squash corn hash, maybe we’ll kick it up with some jalapeno. And then, we do a butternut squash tamale.” 

Butternut Squash Tamales | Makes 20 tamales
Recipe courtesy of the Granville Inn 

50 dried cornhusks
1 butternut squash
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (fresh preferable)
2 cups chicken stock or water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper  
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1 teaspoon ground allspice 
Pecan butter (recipe follows) 

Before forming the tamales, clean the cornhusks under running water. Soak them in warm water for 2 hours or until softened. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Split butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and roast for about 1 hour or until soft. Scoop the flesh from the peel, mash, let cool and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the butter and shortening in small pieces while still cold. Add the squash, honey and maple syrup and mix until there are no visible lumps of fat. Stir in the corn kernels. 

Mix in the stock or water in 4 parts. (The masa mixture will be looser than you think it should be, but it will thicken as it sits and firm up when the tamales are steamed.)

Remove the cornhusks from the water and set aside the 40 best husks. Drain and pat dry. Tear the remaining husks into 1-inch-wide strips to be used for tying. Lay 2 husks flat with the tapered ends facing out and the broad bases overlapping by about 3 inches.

Place about 1/3 cup of the masa mixture in the center of each. Bring the long sides up over the mixture, slightly overlapping, and pat down to close. (Masa may drip out a little at the seam.) Tie each end of the bundle with a strip of cornhusk, pushing the filling toward the middle as you tie. Trim the ends to about half an inch beyond the tie.

Arrange the tamales in a single layer on a steaming rack, cover tightly with foil and steam over boiling water for 45 minutes. To serve: Cut a slit on top of each tamale and push both ends of the tamale toward the middle to expose the masa. Top each with 1 tablespoon of pecan butter.

Pecan Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped 
3 tablespoons maple syrup 
Pinch of cinnamon 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 

Combine all ingredients. Scrape into a small bowl and refrigerate.