This summer treat can only be made when fresh corn is available, but it's well worth the wait. Subtle flavors of corn, green chile peppers and seasonings are rolled in a masa harina dough...just like your traditional Holiday tamales!
These freeze well.
Can also be made with vegetable stock for a meat-free variety.
Make the masa dough: In a large mixing bowl put dry masa mix. Make a well in the masa, add salt and shortening. Add part of the broth and work it into the masa mixture with hands or pastry blender. Work in additional broth until mixture is light and fluffy. Masa is crumbly but will form a ball when lightly pressed into your hand. Cover and chill overnight.
Prepare the corn shucks: Slice off the ends of each ear with a sharp knife. Carefully peel off each shuck, leaving them whole so you can use them for wrapping the tamales. A bit of cornsilk left on is OK because it adds fresh corn flavor! (Shucks need to be checked for dirt, mold, etc. I wash mine in a sink with hot water and a few drops of dish detergent, then rinse them in hot water.)The shucks need to remain moist and pliable.
Make the Filling: Cut corn kernals from each cob (avoiding the tough inner parts of them) and set aside about 4 cups of kernals.
In a large pan mix 4 cups corn kernals, onion, and all the dry seasoning ingredients. Mix in oil and sautee the mixture over medium heat until corn is tender (not mushy).
To the sauteed corn mixture, add chopped chile peppers, garlic and cilantro. Simmer slowly for another 10 minutes. If necessary let excess liquid evaporate, then cover and cool the mixture.
When mixture is cool, add shredded cheese. Mix well.
Filling the tamales: Holding a shuck with one hand, put a thin layer of masa dough and spread edge to edge on the shuck. Spoon some filling onto it and fold up to seal. (Since God doesn't make all shucks the same size and thickness, some roll very easily into the desired shape, but others won't. So on a few you may have to use two shucks (one around the other). These don't have to be pretty -- You don't eat the shucks!)
Leave one end open and fold the other end over to close it. (Some folks tie strings on tamales to keep wrappers closed, but I find this unnecessary when using green corn shucks.)
Make sure your steamer rack keeps food at least 1 inch above boiling water. Put 2 layers of tamales on the rack, cover, and steam over a medium boil for 25 to 30 minutes.
To test doneness, remove one from the steamer and look in the open end. Gently open a space between the dough and the shuck. Dough will be firm and will show the striations from the shuck imprinted on it.
Repeat steaming in layers until all are cooked.
I pack them into freezer bags.
Thawing in the microwave oven is not recommended.)