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Rick Martinez Steak Tamales (Tamales de Arrachera)

Steak Tamales (Tamales de Arrachera)

byRick Martínez
Total 2 hours and 10 minutes
Active 70 mins
Makes 16 to 18 tamales
  • 1 pound (453 grams) skirt steak
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil, for brushing the grates
  • 3 pounds (1.3 kilograms) fresh coarse-grind corn masa for tamales
  • 1 cup (228 grams) butter (2 sticks), plus more if needed
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 large ears), reserve the cobs
  • 2 large chiles poblanos, chopped
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 chile jalapeño, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 18 corn husks
  • Roasted Salsa (Salsa Tatemada), recipe follows, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
    Roasted Salsa (Salsa Tatemada)
    • 10 large Roma tomatoes (about 2 pounds or 990 grams), cored and chopped
    • 3 large chiles serranos, stemmed
    • 1/4 large white onion (about 5.7 ounces or 162 grams)
    • 1 garlic clove
    • Sea salt
      1. Season the steak with salt and pepper and let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour at room temperature before grilling.
      2. Prepare a grill for high direct heat. Clean the grates well, then brush them with oil. Alternatively, heat a grill pan over high heat and brush the pan with oil.
      3. Grill the steak, turning once, until charred on both sides but still very rare, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to assemble the tamales.
      4. Place the masa in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, poblanos, onion, jalapeño, garlic, and 2 tablespoons (24 grams) sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and all the accumulated butter and juices to the bowl with the masa. Mix with your hands until well incorporated and the mixture looks shiny and smooth, about 3 minutes. If the masa is dry or crumbly, add 1/4 cup warm water and mix to combine.
      5. Slap the masa with your hand. Your hand should be shiny and pull away easily. If the dough sticks, knead in more butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it passes the slap test.
      6. To make the husks pliable, soak them in a bowl of hot water until soft, about 15 minutes, weighing them down with a small plate to keep them submerged. Agitate them in the water to remove any dirt, then lift them out and shake off the water.
      7. One at a time, place a husk on a work surface and gently smooth and stretch the wide end. Tear off and reserve any part of the husk that measures more than 5 inches. Repeat with the remaining husks.
      8. Spoon 1/2 cup of the masa mixture about 1 inch from the bottom (wide end) of a husk. Spread the masa 1/4-inch thick evenly over most of the husk, leaving the narrow end bare (use your hands, a butter knife, or an offset spatula). You can scrape the masa off and spread it again if your layer is uneven. Continue until all the husks and masa are used.
      9. Spoon 2 tablespoons of chopped steak down the center of the masa. Grasp one side of the husk and fold it over the filling, then fold the other side over to enclose. Turn the tamale seam-side up and tuck the narrow end of the husk under. Place it seam-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and continue with the remaining husks and steak.
      10. Place the reserved husk scraps over the bottom of a large heavy pot. Cut the reserved corn cobs in half. (If you don’t have corn cobs, make a 3-inch ball of foil.) Place the cobs upright in the pot or put the foil ball in the center. Arrange 4 to 7 tamales upright, folded ends down and seam sides up, around the cobs or ball. Once these tamales are in place, continue placing tamales around the cobs, leaning them as needed, until all the tamales are in the pot.
      11. Pour about 1/2 inch of water into the pot (don’t pour it directly on the tamales or get them wet), place the pot over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and steam the tamales for 35 minutes. Add more water to the pot if it evaporates.
      12. To test for doneness, remove a tamale and let it cool for 3 minutes. Unwrap the husk; if it pulls away cleanly from the masa it’s ready. If the masa sticks to the husk, refold it, return it to the pot, and steam 5 minutes longer. Repeat as necessary until the husks peel away cleanly.
      13. Uncover the pot and let the tamales sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Serve with Roasted Salsa and lime wedges.
      1. Roasted Salsa (Salsa Tatemada)
        1. Prepare a grill for high heat and clean the grates. Grill the tomatoes, serranos, and onion until charred on all sides, about 4 minutes per side for the tomatoes, 2 minutes for the serranos, and 3 minutes for the onion.
        2. Transfer the vegetables to the jar of a blender and add the garlic and 2 teaspoons salt. Blend on medium-low speed until almost smooth. (Don’t be tempted to increase the speed or you will get an airy, smoothie-like consistency; it’s better to have a chunky salsa than a smoothie!) Set the salsa aside until ready to use.