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Pumpkin Ginger Tamales with Spicy Apple Salsa

Yields 20 tamales


Spicy apple salsa

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 10 tart cooking apples (Northern Spy, Jonathan or Empire), peeled, small dice (Red Delicious and MacIntosh are not recommended)
  • 1/2 each medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, small dice
  • 4 tablespoons spiced dark rum
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (available in Latino markets plain, or with chipotles)

Pumpkin ginger tamales

  • 22 to 25 cornhusks
  • 1 pound butter, unsalted, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 41/2 cups corn masa or tamale corn mix, freshly prepared
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree (see below)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 rounded teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Prepare the corn husks

  1. Rinse the cornhusks and soak them in hot water for 1 hour.
  2. When pliable, choose the 20 best husks and set aside.
  3. From the remaining husks cut or tear long thin strips that will be used to tie each end of the tamales.

Spicy apple salsa

  1. Melt the butter in a large saute pan. When butter is bubbling, add apples, onions and red pepper.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until apples brown slightly and begin to soften.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add rum.
  4. Return pan to the heat and add brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and adobo and stir gently. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over low heat.
  5. Taste salsa: It should be sweet, creamy and spicy. Add more butter if needed.

Roasted pumpkin puree

One 3- to 4-pound pumpkin should yield 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree freezes beautifully for up to a year.

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove all seeds and stringy fibers.
  2. Place the halves cut-side down in a roasting pan and pour in about an inch of water.
  3. Bake in a 400?F oven until the flesh is tender, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, turn the pumpkin halves cut-side up to cool.
  5. Scoop the flesh from the skin and either pur?e in a food processor or mash by hand.
  6. Transfer the pur?e to a sieve lined with paper towels or cheesecloth and let drain for about 1 to 2 hours (until the pur?e can hold its shape on a spoon), stirring occasionally.


  1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium high for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the salt, cayenne, cinnamon and cloves. Continue creaming for an additional 7 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Meanwhile, place the freshly prepared masa in a large bowl and add the pumpkin puree, baking powder and milk. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add this mixture 1/4 cup at a time to the food processor. Continue to process for several minutes until it is light and fluffy.
  5. Lay the cornhusks flat on a work surface and spoon about 1/2 cup or slightly more of the masa mixture onto the surface of the husk. Press down and flatten into an even layer.
  6. Spoon about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (to taste) of toasted chopped pecans down the center of the pressed masa, then top the nuts with another teaspoon of the masa mixture.
  7. Gently press the nuts into the masa dough. Fold the bottom of the cornhusk up and the sides in over the mixture so that the edges overlap. Tie the top and bottom of each rolled husk with the prepared strips.
  8. Steam in a large bamboo steamer (or other large pot with steamer insert) for about 11/2 hours or until the dough is firm and no longer sticks to the husks. Wrapping each tamale in foil before steaming will ensure that it holds together well and won’t explode during steaming.

Tamales can be served right out of the steamer or reheated later in the oven. To serve, slit down the center and drizzle with your favorite moles, sauces, or salsas.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!