Tamales don't have to have animal products to be weaponized parcels of deliciousness. With the right ingredient substitutes and some care, these veggie tamales can be just as gratifying as the carnivore's version. A pressure cooker speeds up the process and also makes for tamales packed with aroma, thanks to the steam being forced into every nook and cranny.
For the filling: Add the shortening to a large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the squash and cook, stirring only once, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic and stir to combine. Add the onion, chili powder and cumin and cook until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes and salt and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer a bowl and chill to cool.
For the tamales: In a stovetop pressure cooker, add 3 cups of water along with the corn husks. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for locking on the lid. Cook under high pressure just until the pressure is reached. Quick-release the pressure and carefully remove the lid. Remove the husks and cover with a damp towel, reserving the hot liquid.
Place the masa in a medium bowl and whisk in the salt and baking powder. Add the vegetable shortening by pinching it together with the masa, rubbing it together to disperse. Add all of the hot water from the pressure cooker and stir until a batter is formed.
Lay the husks out and spread a large golf ball-sized amount of the masa in a thin layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Add about two tablespoons of the chilled filling. Fold the tamale like an open-ended envelope, starting with the sides and then the bottom. Place the tamale seam-side down in a steamer basket to let gravity hold it in place. Continue with the remaining husks and filling. Very carefully wrap the whole bunch of tamales in foil, leaving the tops exposed, and stand the tamales on their ends so they stand upright in the steamer basket. If your steamer basket has handles, this will help. Add 1 cup water to the pressure cooker, then lower in the filled steamer basket, and pressure cook over high heat at high pressure for 10 minutes. Quick-release the pressure, then remove the basket and plate your hot tamales.
The pressure cooker must come with a steaming basket! Otherwise, use a colander or rack to keep the tamales out of the water.
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