Friday, November 29, 2013

my tamalada

As promised..a tamale blog post. And I will start from, somewhat of the beginning...

I married young..I was out of diapers but you get the picture. I was from the southeast - hubby from the southwest. 2 different cultures. 2 completely different heritages and all wrapped up in 2 young naive little teenagers..I had no clue what I was doing. My first holiday with my new cultured family, I saw and ate tamales for the first time. And  yes, I even attempted to eat the husk..when I say I was naive, I mean I was like the naive-est of the naive. I was too young to appreciate it then but looking back I'm so thankful for the grace and hospitality my in-laws showed me. They're 2 of the most wonderful people on earth and forever deeply dear to my heart. So after a short course on eating tamales, I've spent these last 20 years trying to make them! I'm definitely still no expert but here's my process:

  • I cook a roast (we prefer pork but use the meat of your preference), debone and pick off the fat then put the shredded meat into another stew pot and set aside. If you can't find the ingredients at your local grocery store, a Mexican store will carry them all.
main ingredients: cooked roast, chile pods, corn husks & masa mix
  • Corn husks - start soaking in water for about 20 min and then drain. I soak them while I'm preparing the rest of the ingredients.

  • Take about 10 red chile pods (more if you're using a roast bigger than 5lbs) and boil them in water until soft - about 15/20 minutes. When they're soft I pluck off the stem and put the entire pod into the blender, I also add some of the water they were boiled in to make it more sauce like, rather than paste. After the pods are pureed, I put them through a strainer to catch the skins and seeds while the sauce runs into a container. I like to add a few seeds then to the finished chile sauce but this is preference - I think it adds a little extra heat and the hubby likes it hot.
if you make a HUGE mess making the red chile sauce...you're not alone, so do I.
  • I then add the chile sauce to my stew pot of meat and simmer until the meat is softly shredded and the chile sauce has cooked down.
red chile meat
  • I use Tamal corn masa mix for the masa. I follow the instructions on the bag - using lard instead of margarine and broth from the meat I cooked, instead of water. The masa will need to be very spreadable, so you may need to add more broth or water if needed to get a soft consistency.
masa mixed and ready to spread
  • Now you're ready to make the tamales - get your corn husks out of the water and I pat dry a bit so the masa can be spread a little easier. Lay the corn husk out flat and spread about 3/4 of the corn husk with masa - I like a thin layer of masa but make sure you get the husk covered (think spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread). The thicker the masa, the thicker the tamale. Which means you may run out of folding room depending on the size of the corn husk. You will also run out of masa FAST. So I prefer thin. Once you have your masa spread - add a chunk of your chile meat to the middle of your masa. The idea is to have the masa completely cover the meat once it's folded. We like a lot of meat so I'm generous with it as long as it fits in the middle of the masa..I fill it up. Keeping in mind that masa needs to be on all sides of the meat, now you fold.
(these pics are of an already cooked tamale since I forgot to take pics of them while I was actually spreading & folding :-/..)
fold the right side towards the left, making sure the masa covers the meat

then fold the left side over towards the right

then the bottom is folded up
  • Repeat until all your meat or masa or corn husks are gone. Since my steam pot is on the small side, I usually make just a couple dozen tamales at a time. But I prefer to make dozens and dozens at a time and then freeze the extras (after they're steamed). They're just as tasty reheated!
place the folded end side down into the steam pot
  • You will need a steam pot of some sort - I just use the one I can with. Steam for about an hour until the masa is firm. The more masa in your corn husk the longer it takes to cook. After they're done, peel the corn husk off and eat. Once you get a taste for tamales, you will always crave them. At least that's my story.
the perfect holiday meal served with rice or refried beans ~ cheers to the tamalada
 What Wikipedia has to say about the Tamale
PS. If after you've filled all the corn husks you wanna fill and still have red chile meat left over - roll some up in a tortilla. It is AMAZING.

the people that instilled in me a taste for authentic Mexican food and who chose to love me like a daughter - mom & dad Gonzalez