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Caramelized Onions and Pepato Cheese Tamale with Cranberry

Servings: 8


8 large dried corn husks

For Caramelized Onion:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 pounds onions (such as Spanish, red, leek, or Vidalia), thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons honey

For Filling:
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 cup masa harina
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin pepato cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup butter, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 sprigs of fresh thyme

Cooking Directions:

Immerse the corn husks in hot water for 2 hours, soaking until pliable. Meanwhile, prepare the caramelized onions.

For caramelized onions: In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over low heat until soft and golden brown, stirring often. Add the wine, vinegar, and salt. Simmer until the liquid evaporates. Add the honey and caramelize. Set aside.

For filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the cranberry juice. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the masa harina, and mix. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, baking powder, and pinch of salt until light. Add the masa harina mixture a little bit at a time until completely blended. Fold in the remainder of the cheese and season if necessary.

To assemble: Dry the softened corn husks with paper towels and lay them flat on your work surface. Peel two thin strips from each husk and reserve. Evenly distribute half of the masa harina mixture onto the flat husks, spreading almost to the edges of each husk. Layer the caramelized onions on top of the masa harina mixture over the onions. Place a small sprig of thyme on each tamale and close the husks by rolling and tying the ends with the reserved corn husk strips.

Place a small cake rack or other rack in a large pan or steamer. Add water to a level that is below the rack. Bring the water to a boil. Place the tamales on the rack. Steam, being careful the water does not touch the rack, about 1 hour. Open and serve.

Tip: Serve with cranberry juice for an accompaniment.

Variations: Substitute cream of wheat (follow the proportions on the box and substitute apple juice for the water), grits or white rice for the cornmeal.

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