There’s this place in town – it’s called Feast. I visited their tent at the farmers market last summer and ordered a tamale or two every Saturday. Or, we’d take my mom to have some at the restaurant with some eggs and their fresh tomatillo salsa verde (she’d always buy 2 dozen frozen to take home). They’re amazing: Words just can’t do justice for this husk-wrapped brick of heaven.
Enter Whole30 eating: the farmers market experience is now less about eating and more about making sure we have food for the week. Sadly – tear! – these Saturday adventures no longer include a trip to the Feast tent. Since corn doesn’t quite make the Whole30 cut, I had to figure out a way to make some of my own.
After a few experiments, I finally found an interesting combo of sweet potatoes + chorizo that is a little sweet and very savory. The secret to these Whole30 tamales is that your fillings must be tasty! What I love is that this isn’t just one recipe, because there are countless ways to substitute with these ingredients – you could try squash or plantains instead of sweet potatoes for the dough, and the combinations of fillings are endless. Tamales are both worthwhile and time-consuming, so make ahead and scarf down later. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato-Chorizo Tamales (Whole30 and Paleo Friendly)
Serves 4, or 3 hungry runners
Demonstration photos taken with the help of my handsome assistant, Ben
2 1/4 cups almond flour
2 3/4 cups sweet potatoes, mashed (cheat: microwave them)
2 tbsp arrowroot powder (on the flour & baking shelf in the organic section)
1/2 tsp salt
Dried corn husks
Your pick! Shoot for 3/4 pound.
Try seasoned, shredded pork or chicken, or even vegetables.
Feeling creative? Check out these unique combos from Feast.
I kept it simple and used my favorite – very flavorful – chorizo from Schacht Farm table at the farmers market and threw in some chopped cilantro. Yes, cook the meat before you fill your tamales!
1) Soak dried corn husks in water for a few hours until moldable. I had to sink mine in water with a bowl overnight.
2) Combine sweet potatoes, almond flour, eggs, and salt in a food processor or mixer. Mix well.
3) Add arrowroot powder to help thicken the dough. If 2 tbsp is not enough, add more arrowroot powder. The dough should not be too sticky or watery.
Filling & Prep
4) Prepare the filling – cook the meat, slice/dice vegetables, and chop herbs.
5) Rip corn husks into thin strips – these will be used to tie them together later.
If you have everything you need within reach, this shouldn’t get too messy…
6) Place a corn husk onto your prep surface. Drop a spoonful of the dough onto the corn husk (again, it should not be sticky. Spread it out across the corn husk. If it’s sticky, add a bit more almond flour.
7) Sprinkle a few tablespoons of meat onto the dough. Top sparingly with any herbs or vegetables.
8) Here’s the tricky part! Fold the bottom of the corn husk up. It’ll make a little pocket to fold the meat in. Let the corn husk you just folded over lay back down.
9) Fold the meat in with the husk on each of the sides, so that the filling now disappears inside the dough.
10) Use the corn husk to wrap the tamale like a piece of candy, pinching at both ends.
11) Tie the corn husk at each end using the thin strips.
Now, the tamales are ready to cook or freeze (throw them in a sealed freezer bag and they’ll be ready when you want to cook them in the future).
Bonus round: I ran out of corn husks, so we made some open-faced tamales out of the remaining dough (plus one more egg) and meat. They baked on a cookie sheet at 400º for 20 minutes, topped off with 3-5 minutes of broiling until toasted. They turned out more like mini chorizo pizzas – tasty both ways!
Steam for 10 minutes in a steamer pot.
OR bake at 375º F for 20 minutes on a cookie sheet.