Tamal Azteca with Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce and Whole Fruit Margaritas

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

This is probably a lot more work than we would normally put into for a meal, but it was Sara’s birthday, and Sara loves Rick Bayless. We just so happened to have his cookbook on loan from the library, and there you go. The margaritas were just bonus, but they were the perfect compliment.

The Journey:

So it’s kind of a lot of work, but honestly not that much work. The hard part is roasting and peeling the tomatoes for the sauce. Make sure you roast the tomatoes until the skin is falling off. The rest of it is pretty straight forward.

The sauce is spicy! I was pretty surprised, because there’s not that much in the way of spices, just the chipotles. In fact, in general, I can’t believe how flavorful the whole thing is, considering the only real seasoning is salt. It’s like I can’t rectify the ingredients list with the amazing taste in my mouth. It just goes to show you, you really don’t need much to make an amazing meal. Less is more. (It probably also helped that the tomatoes were from our garden, and thus were a lot more flavorful than store-bought tomatoes.)

These were hands down the best margaritas we’ve ever made at home. And so simple with the Vitamix! I’m not sure what you would need to do to adapt this to a regular blender.

The Verdict:

Magnífico! Seriously, you knew Rick Bayless wasn’t going to lead you wrong. Although we make Mexican food a decent amount, we have never made anything as fancy as this. It is well worth putting in the effort. We have already made two more batches and froze them for later!

The Recipe:

Recipes courtesy Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Whole Food Recipes by Vitamix

Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce

  • One can (7 0z.) chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • ~5 lbs ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. salt

Tamal Azteca

  • 6 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted
  • 9 oz. shredded Chihuahua cheese (the original recipe called for 1 lb., but it was tasty with only 1 package…use your discretion)
  • 12 – 16 corn tortillas, depending on the size of your pan
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • ~1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce:

  1. Roast the unpeeled garlic in a skillet, turning occasionally until soft, about 15 minutes (they will blacken in spots). Cool and peel.
  2. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blacked on one side, about 6 – 8 minutes, then turn and roast the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
  3. Working in batches in a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes with their juices, chipotle chiles and garlic to a medium-fine puree.
  4. Heat a medium-size, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the tomato puree and stir nearly constantly for 8 to 10 minutes as it sears and thickens. Taste and season with salt.

Tamal Azteca:

  1. In a vegetable steamer, steam the spinach, covered, until tender (~2 minutes). Immediately spread out on a baking sheet to cool, then roughly chop.
  2. Steam the diced zucchini until just tender, ~3 minutes, then spread out to cool.
  3. Sprinkle the veggies with 1/4 tsp. of the salt.
  4. Set out the corn, tomato sauce and shredded cheese.
  5. Pour the 1/2 cup of the oil into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. When the oil is hot, quick-fry the tortillas one at a time for a few seconds per side, just to soften them. Drain the tortillas in a single layer on the paper towels, blotting them dry. (Note that we skipped this step and just used the tortillas right out of the package, and it was fine!)
  6. Cut the tortillas in half.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom, then lay out 8 tortilla halves in a single layer, arranging them to cover as much sauce as possible. Evenly spread the greens, a scant 1 1/2 cups of the remaining sauce and 1 cup of cheese. Top with another layer of 8 tortilla halves. Spread on the corn and the same amount of sauce and cheese. Top with a third layer of 8 tortilla halves, the zucchini and another round of sauce and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla halves, sauce and cheese.
  8. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned. Let stand a few minutes before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Whole Fruit Margaritas

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 oz. tequila (we used 1800 Silver)
  • 2 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 1 orange, peeled, halved
  • 1 lime, peeled, halved
  • 1 lemon, peeled and seeded, halved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 cups ice cubes
  1. Place all the ingredients into the Vitamix in the order listed.
  2. Blend on high for 45 seconds (not sure how long it would need to be blended in a regular blender)
  3. Serve. (This filled 6 margarita glasses)

6 thoughts on “Tamal Azteca with Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce and Whole Fruit Margaritas

    • I think the amount of work was maybe blown out of proportion. It didn’t seem bad to me (and I was the one who made it both times)! I didn’t fry the tortilla’s which saved a lot of time (and calories), so the thing that took the longest was removing a ton of tiny garden tomatoes from their roasted skins.


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